PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin brought his Pittsburgh Steelers into the meeting room Wednesday morning, told them Landry Jones was replacing Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and asked Jones if he had anything to say to the team.
"Yeah," Jones said from his seat. "Don't panic."
"As smooth as Landry could say it," linebacker Arthur Moats said with a laugh.
Did it calm the nerves?
"Absolutely, man. Anytime THE Landry Jones graces us with his verbal leadership, we always appreciate that," Moats said. "In all seriousness, we're extremely confident. We're not worried about who you put out there. We understand the Next Man Up motto. Doesn't matter, any position, as you've seen this year, we've had those guys come in and have success. It's no different with Landry. We're anticipating him coming in there and playing a great game. He put his work in, studied. It's his time to shine."
Jones has had his ups and down since the Steelers drafted him in the fourth round in 2013 following a record-breaking career at Oklahoma. His downs include:
* A passer rating in four preseasons of 68.4, and while often playing with starters his ratings the last two preseasons were 71.4 and 76.5.
* He lost his first regular-season start last year in Kansas City.
* His "win" as a starter occurred against Cleveland after he left in the first quarter with an injury.
* Thrust into last season's playoff game at Cincinnati with a 15-7 fourth-quarter lead, Jones was sacked, intercepted and left the game trailing 16-15 before the injured and re-inserted Roethlisberger pulled out the win.
Jones has had his moments last year, though. He replaced Michael Vick last season against Arizona and turned a 10-6 third-quarter deficit into a 25-13 win with a pair of touchdown passes. His 149.3 passer rating was the second-highest passer rating ever for a QB making his NFL debut.
Jones also pulled out a last-second 38-35 win over Oakland after replacing an injured Roethlisberger and driving the Steelers 79 yards for a short field goal.
Does he have a whisper of a chance against Tom Brady and the 5-1 New England Patriots?
"I’m anxious. I’m excited. It’s going to be a great week," said Jones. "This is a huge game for my career and the direction I want to go. I’m just excited for the opportunity and excited to get out there and actually get in there and play."
According to teammates, Jones directed the team flawlessly Wednesday afternoon at practice.
"Landry looked good today. He looked real good," said Le'Veon Bell. "He's a lot more comfortable than he was last year, just around the guys. We all hang out outside of football. Him demanding things in the huddle and things like that, he gets more of the respect. That's the biggest thing you want from your quarterback, and we saw a lot of that today."
"I think he did a great job going out there commanding the offense, getting the guys back to the huddle fast, getting the guys lined up fast," said center Maurkice Pouncey. "He did a good job, man, calling out audibles, checking plays. It was good. We did two-minute, too, and he looked really good.
"Good signs for us, right?"
Just don't panic.null