Is Newly Drafted Landry Jones The Future of The Steelers?

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Jan 4, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Landry Jones (12) throws a pass in the pocket against the Texas A

Is he a roster prophet or just bitter about his imminent departure?  That is the conversation surrounding Steelers longtime backup quarterback Charlie Batch and his thoughts on the Steelers drafting Oklahoma Sooner Landry Jones in the third round of this year’s draft.  Charlie said this about Landry’s selection:

Maybe they weren’t happy with what they had behind Ben and Bruce. That could be. But ultimately, I think this isn’t about replacing me. Big picture, maybe they’re thinking, ‘Can we develop Landry Jones to be the starter? Maybe two years from now, he could be our guy for the next 10 years.’ We don’t know. But with the contracts for quarterbacks these days, he’d certainly be a heck of a lot cheaper than Ben at age 34 or 35 or 36.

The backup quarterback position for the Steelers has been a tough one to fill over the years.  The team has auditioned many young and veteran players over the years, none with any overall success in being a dependable backup.  Except good ol’ Charlie Batch.  Batch was around before Roethlisberger entered the scene in 2004.  He lost his fair share of games, but when it seemed the Steelers were desperate for a win with Big Ben out, Charlie would provide.  The Steelers became his family, and he had many good things to say about the Steelers organization in an interview with the PPG which contained his thoughts about Jones.

Batch and Roethlisberger embrace after Batch led the Steelers to victory. Batch told the PPG that he and Ben knew that game could have been the last of his career.

Look, in no way do I feel that Batch is bitter about having to leave the Steelers.  But what I do think is that his remarks cannot be dismissed as a guy who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  It’s easy to think that the Steelers are completely invested in Ben until his body parts start falling off.  It’s easy to think that the Steelers would do anything they can to keep him on the payroll.  It’s easy to think that drafting a 4th rounder is in no way a person who can take the helm under center let alone replace a future HOF in Roethlisberger.  At least, that’s what your favorite Ravens suck up and AFC North reporter from ESPN, Jamison Hensley had to say about it.  In Hensley’s mind, he is so befuddled over the Steelers picking Jones in the 4th round in the first place, that he practically sees no career ahead of this guy – he uses Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre as his comparison.

Batch is by far from plunging off the deep end with what he is saying.  Consider this – Batch has been a part of this organization for 10 seasons.  He’s been around Roethlisberger since he was drafted into this league in 2004.  He’s watched Ben grow up and mature into the starter and star that he is today.  He’s been around long enough to have an understanding of how the Steelers do business.  Ben will be a very very costly player come 2014 – $19 million in cap money in fact.  The Steelers have dug themselves such a deep hole with restructuring contracts over the last few years that the amount of money piled up against them makes the IRS weep.  The Steelers may have gobbled up a bunch of linemen to bolster the pass blocking for a sad state of an offensive line.  Certainly, the intent was to extend Big Ben’s career after being a victim of too many sacks over the last couple of years.  But, that’s not the whole picture.  The offense needed better pass blockers no matter who was back there, so that there’s time to get rid of the damn ball.  Period.  Not every decision made about the offense is specifically for Roethlisberger.  If it were, they would have done everything they could to keep Mike Wallace around.

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  • Informed reader

    Honestly, as much as I love Charlie, I think this was Charlie being a little bitter. It probably makes him feel better to think this was about Ben, and not about him and Byron. But the reality is, Ben is still with the team and those two aren’t, so I think that tells us all we need to know.

    Ben could have a career ending injury this season (God forbid.) They need to have a reliable backup and be grooming a young guy in case that happens. Even if Ben is just knocked out for a game or two, they need a reliable backup. It was time to move on from Charlie and Byron. But I just can’t believe the team is planning to push Ben out in a couple of years just to have a cheaper young guy. That makes no sense. If the day comes when Ben’s skills have declined and he tries to hang on despite the fact that a cheap young guy gives the team a better chance of winning, Ben will be replaced. But unless that happens, the job is Ben’s.

    • Craig

      It seems the finances of this team are a wreck of late, and though I doubt they would get rid of the face of their franchise, I would not be surprised that they make a move like that to save a TON of money on payroll (if push comes to shove).

      • Informed reader

        I hear what you’re saying, and you do a good job of presenting your rationale. But if push came to shove I believe they would be better off cutting Troy (who is always injured), Woodley (who is always injured and out of shape) and anybody else they need to. Not that I want to see those guys go…I don’t. But they have to remember the years after Bradshaw retired. One mediocre to pretty good but not quite good enough QB after another for 20 years. And while the team always had great defenses, we never won another superbowl until Ben was drafted.

        Maybe Landry will end up being the next Ben. If Ben gets hurt and Landry proves himself to have the same magic Ben does, then that changes things. Then this becomes a tough decision…like the Colts faced with Peyton. But to just take a chance and hope without any proof that Landry can be as good as a healthy Ben seems crazy. Hope is not a strategy.