By now, fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers who weren't awake late Sunday night to read about Ben Roethlisberger suffering a torn meniscus in his knee, have come to the reality of the Week 7 game at Heinz Field. It will be Landry Jones under center as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots come to town.
Landry Jones is expected to start against the Patriots.— Ron Cook (@RonCookPG) October 17, 2016
There is a strong contingent of the fan base who is clamoring for Zach Mettenberger to get the start, or at least playing time, this Sunday.
In my opinion, this discussion of Jones vs. Mettenberger is certainly warranted, but won't take place.
Why? The Steelers are a very predictable organization. Jones has been in the Todd Haley system since his rookie season, which means there is no chance the turn to Mettenberger barring an injury to Jones. However, if Jones struggles, the leash shouldn't be nearly as long before turning to Mettenberger.
The way the Steelers' upcoming schedule pans out, it would be logical for the organization to go with Jones in Week 7, but if Roethlisberger is unable to heal before the Week 9 game against the Baltimore Ravens, and if Jones struggles vs. New England, it would give the other 'berger on the roster a full two weeks to prepare for the big AFC North showdown.
At this stage of the game you can talk about statistics, analytics, compare records, etc., but to me it comes down to who gives you the best chance to win on a week-by-week basis. If you look at it this way, Jones is clearly the right decision in Week 7. His knowledge of not just the playbook, but the personnel, will be a huge asset for the team. Like Mike Vick in 2015, Jones won't be asked to go out and win the game, just not to lose it.
To be completely honest, any games the Steelers play without Roethlisberger won't boil down to just the quarterback, but the team around whoever is taking the snaps. The offense will have to rely on players like Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and a positive performance from the offensive line keeping opponents at bay, while opening running lanes for the running backs.
Football is still a team game, and that hasn't changed. The Steelers' backs are against the wall in many ways, the quarterback of the team being paramount at this juncture, but fans should prepare themselves for Landry Jones, at least for Week 7.
The hope is Roethlisberger, aided by a near perfect bye week, will return in Week 9 for the Ravens game, but if he doesn't, the team should evaluate the quarterback position wisely. The season isn't over, but it could be if this situation is mismanaged.