It is no secret that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones had a forgettable night on Thursday when he threw 4 interceptions in the first half of the preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field.
However, while most fans just throw their hands in the air and yell at the screen, it is worth noting just what went wrong on the individual play. Mike Tomlin eluded to some of the interceptions not being Jones’ fault, and wide receiver Sammie Coates blamed himself for some of the quarterback’s poor stat line.
We will analyze 3 of the 4 interceptions, leaving out the deflected interception in the end-zone. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we...
1st Quarter Pick-Six
Whenever analyzing quarterback play, you have to look at all of the moving parts. Offensive line, formation, snap, and most importantly, the quarterback himself. The Steelers are in a very comfortable 3 wide receiver set, with Sammie Coates bunched on the strong side.
First thing you should watch is Jones’ eyes. They never leave Coates from the moment the ball touches his hands. Staring down a receiver is bad enough, but throwing the ball to his wrong shoulder is a death knell.
And that is exactly what happened on this play. From the sideline angle it looks as if the defender just made a great play on the ball, but when the play shows the end zone angle you see just how poor the throw really was.
Some have said Coates could have fought for the ball more, and that may be true, but this was just an awful throw by the quarterback.
End zone fade
This is a play which is tough to tell exactly what Jones was seeing before releasing the football. It is also difficult to try and think what Coates is doing. Is it a coincidence both of the first two interceptions were intended for Coates? Possibly.
On this play the Steelers are in a very basic 2 TE, 2WR set, and Jones is again eyeing down Coates from the start. He doesn’t have to look off the receiver too much, being in the red-zone and throwing an outside shoulder pass should be enough to allow your receiver to make a play on the ball, and he did just that.
Coates could have, and should have, turned to try and high point the ball. Instead, it seems he literally watches the defensive back get inside on the route and make a fine interception along the sideline.
Landry saw a one-on-one on the outside, and gave his receiver a chance to make a play. This interception isn’t on Jones. Blame Coates for not being able to play the ball better, and tip of the cap to the defender for a fine defensive play.
On this play there is a lot of blame to go around for the interception. This pass was certainly impacted by pressure, but also by a really poor decision by the quarterback. Let’s start from the beginning.
The Steelers are in a 3WR shotgun formation with a RB in the sidecar left of Jones. Eli Rogers will be the intended receiver, and he is in the slot to the left. The Eagles bring pressure with their front 4, particularly their edge rushers. Just watch Jesse James near the top of the screen. That is what we call a “whiff” in almost any sport which could have someone completely miss.
If James’ missed block isn’t enough, again Jones looks as if he has made up his mind where he is throwing the ball before the snap even gets to him. How do you know? He doesn’t see, or feel, the pressure coming, and is eyeing down Rogers the entire time. The Eagles drop their two linebackers into coverage, and Jones is throwing it directly into the Bermuda triangle of a zone defense.
Sure, the pass was impacted by the pressure, but even if he had a clean pocket there is a small chance he could have fit it between the three players converging on Rogers. Good defensive call by Philadelphia, and a horrible play from both Jesse James and Landry Jones.
There is plenty of work to be done for Landry Jones, but it should be noted not all of his interceptions should fall directly on his shoulders. Most will cringe watching these plays on a loop, but Jones is going to be the team’s No. 2 quarterback in 2016 whether you like it or not. The hope is he learns from mistakes like these, as well as the rest of the team, and they can build him up enough to fill in if necessary this season.
Or, if you are like me, you can knock on wood, light a candle, say a prayer or do a health dance to ensure Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t miss any games this year.