The career of a backup quarterback is hard, but Pittsburgh Steelers’ Landry Jones is playing it perfectly

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 01: Landry Jones /

The standard Pittsburgh Steelers’ backup quarterback, Landry Jones, has to live up to each season is remarkable, and has led to a career most wouldn’t be able to master.

In the NFL, backup quarterbacks have one of the most important jobs. They aren’t expected to be talented enough to win every game, but contain the ability to win x amount of games when called upon.

Some of these players go above and beyond the call of duty. Nick Foles is a prime example. Others never seem to fill the shoes of their superior and end up on the bottom half of league wide backups.

Landry Jones is near the top of this list. Ranking all the backups in the NFL, Jones sits in the top three or four, without question.

The Oklahoma great never had a chance to start in the NFL. Straight out of college, Jones was a career backup, stuck behind the greatest Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback to ever live.

So, instead of complaining or setting out to prove himself worthy of a starting job, Jones took on the challenge of a career backup. While Blue Mountain State’s Alex Moran made that seem like every athlete’s dream, Jones has proven it’s much harder than sitting on the sidelines and following the offensive coordinator around on Sundays.

For starters, you can never out-shine the starter. A backup has the job of stepping into a starting role when need be and winning games. But by no means can they break records or play well enough to convince fans they deserve the starting job.

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Then, there’s the fact that never complaining about playing time and only being good enough to be a backup isn’t good enough. When anyone, especially Jones, though, steps on the field to take over for an injured starter, they’re expected to be the best.

Oh, it’s the third quarter, your team is down by 14 and you haven’t thrown more than 15 passes on the sideline while they carted a future Hall of Famer off the field? Good luck, we expect nothing less than 200 yards, three touchdowns and a win.

And finally, there’s the constant pressure of being replaced. Every offseason, tons of new quarterbacks are floating around the free agent market. On a team like Pittsburgh, worrying about signing a starter isn’t an issue. Big Ben is the man until he retires.

From February to July, every prospective backup quarterback available is said to be your replacement. Whether it’s a seventh-round draft pick or another team’s backup, who wasn’t good enough to stay on their last team, but certainly good enough to replace you.

Because for some reason, no backup quarterback in the league is good enough. Unless they’re a rookie or a brand new signing, backup quarterbacks are nothing more than a weighted vest dragging their team to the bottom of the league.

In Pittsburgh, Landry Jones has taken the guidelines of a backup and perfected them. With each season helping him develop more and more, the Steelers second-string passer is exactly what every team wants to support their starting quarterback.

In four years, Jones has accumulated a starting record of 3-2. Not that desirable, but considering his starter is one of the toughest players to ever life, starting five games and staying above .500 isn’t a bad mark.

When called upon, Jones is someone Pittsburgh can trust. It never feels as smooth as when Roethlisberger is behind center, but it’s sound enough to believe there’s a chance for a win.

And Jone’s never complains. Pittsburgh has passed right over him when looking for the future franchise quarterback and not a word was said. Every season everyone constantly complains about how “bad” Jones is, and never once has he come and out said a word.

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He plays the role perfectly. As someone who has zero responsibility, Jones is one of the most dependable players on the roster. Whether he’s a NFL star or not, he’s someone this team doesn’t want to leave. Because the life of a backup quarterback is hard, but Landry Jones is making it look easy.