What’s left of the Pittsburgh Steelers practiced on Wednesday. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was obviously not among them as he continues to nurse an injured throwing shoulder. Ben is expected to give it a go in the Divisional Playoff against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Reports are his availability will only be limited by his pain tolerance – and perhaps the effectiveness of whatever painkilling injections he takes prior to kick off.
In Ben’s absence, the offense is being run by Landry Jones. Jones assumed the role of back up this season after coming off the bench to lead the Steelers to a win against the Arizona Cardinals. He followed that with a solid if unspectacular performance in a loss against the Chiefs. Jones was supposed to start a couple weeks later in Cleveland but was hurt on the opening drive, allowing Ben to enter as the “emergency back up” and proceed to torch the hapless Browns for 379 yards and 3 TDs.
After basically being paid to hold a clipboard in team issued sweatpants his first two years, Jones saw a ton of playing time this season. Taking his place on the sideline as a healthy scratch has been Michael Vick. Vick was initially signed to be the team’s #2 before a combination of poor play and injury opened the door for Jones. He hasn’t even been in uniform since leaving that October 18th game against Arizona.
In his weekly news conference, Mike Tomlin said he’s open to all options, including dressing Vick.
Jones looked bad in his brief appearance last Saturday against the Bengals, going 2 for 5 for 11 yards and an interception on three drives. The numbers don’t really reflect how utterly shell-shocked he looked. The Steelers are spinning it that he didn’t get any practice and was ill-prepared to be thrown into the fire but that’s exactly what a back up is supposed to do. Ben rallied to his cause, telling him, “Don’t be too hard on yourself because you never know when we’ll need you again.”
While by no means am I suggesting Jones should sit in favor of Vick, were I the Steelers I would certainly put Vick in uniform this Sunday. Vick wasn’t too effective when he played but he did take care of the football, which is imperative during the postseason. Besides, if something were to happen to Ben, it wouldn’t hurt to have options. What we saw in Houston’s pitiful shutout playoff loss against the Chiefs last weekend was a team with no Plan B after their starter threw 4 INTs in the first half. You should always have a Plan B.
Or, with the way this season has gone for the Black and Gold, a Plan C and D.