Landry Jones (QB, Oklahoma) vs UTEP

Credit where credit is due, this is the best Landry Jones has looked for a long time. Hopefully that is down to some form of epiphany at the end of last season rather than the quality of opponent in week one. Yet there are some encouraging signs here.

For starters, Jones looks slimmer. He was too big last year and his mobility was non-existent – he was like a great big block of stone in the pocket. Against UTEP he looked lighter and nimbler, his footwork was better and he kept a few plays alive. He still took some avoidable sacks, but there’s evidence of improvement. The key will be not slipping into old habits against stronger opponents.

Even so it’s good to see Jones has been working during the off-season. I’ve no way of knowing whether he got into a comfort zone last year but there are plenty of reasons why that could’ve happened. Oklahoma were the pre-season #1 team and many expected the Sooners to win because of their quarterback. Jones was being hyped up by multiple members of the national scouting fraternity as a top NFL draft pick. He’d also witnessed Sam Bradford’s positive rookie year having left the same offensive system. Life was good for Landry Jones.

Yet when the season began, he was awful. He relied totally on scripted plays, often throwing blind or without making any kind of read. He forced throws, he took sacks. He’d crumble under any kind of pressure. By the end of the year they were taking him out of the red zone and playing a rushing quarterback. He didn’t declare because he knew his stock had been obliterated. Instead of being the top-10 pick people were projecting in the summer, he was now a mid-rounder at best.

It looks like that experience acted as a wake-up call. This is only one game, but it’s better. He’s always had a good arm and the first touchdown pass is one of the best you’ll see all season. At 1:02 in the video above he drops back, makes a couple of reads before throwing to the opposite side of the field for a huge score to Kenny Stills. Note the Manning-esque stutter-step footwork. Note the arm – there are quarterbacks in the NFL who cannot make that throw. It’s incredible. He benefits greatly from elite pass protection on the play, but he makes the most of it.

There’s the usual dose of scripted plays here and one thing that will always bother me with Jones is the scheme. He’s programmed to avoid deviating away from what he’s told. The best quarterbacks in the NFL have multiple options at the LOS and make the correct decision as the play unfolds. The ability to improvise is a key, underrated aspect when looking at potential pro-quarterbacks. Defenses are not going to make life easy for you at the next level and being able to respond to adversity is a big-time characteristic. For Oklahoma, Jones more often than not knows exactly where he’s going to throw before he even leaves the huddle. This has led to mistakes in the past with teams second guessing the play-call and even in this video you’ll Jones snap, turns to his left and throw semi-blind to a covered receiver.

That won’t cut it at the next level, but there are positives in this video. If he can show a little more inspiration, continue to improve his footwork in the pocket and keep making big plays – he can propel his stock to a level many still continue to project. I remain sceptical for now, but he has a lot of football left to show he’s worthy of a place in round one.


  1. Colin

    Still mediocre in my eyes. Took unecessary sacks, oblivious to pressure coming, a statue in the pocket,etc. Physically he does look much better, but his play represented more of the same from last year. I will remain skeptical.

    • Rob Staton

      Me too… but as someone who’s been very negative about Jones I felt obliged to discuss positives when they are evident.

  2. Brendan Scolari

    Rob, what did you think of Logan Thomas last night? I hadn’t seen him before, but I was utterly disappointed. I don’t think he completed a pass that wasn’t a slant or a screen all night except for the long toucdown where the receiver beat the corner badly. Also didn’t show off his athleticism much aand didn’t seem to have a plus arm to me. His accuracy was very spotty and he missed badly on a few throws. To me if that game was at all representative of his skills set he is not a first round pick, but I’m hoping that was an aberration.

    • Rob Staton

      It wasn’t a great performance, but it wasn’t a disaster. I’ve watched Virginia Tech’s first game of the season for the last four years and without fail the play calling and overall performance has been poor every time. I’m not a VT fan – I’m not a fan of any college team – but for the fourth year in a row I was screaming at the TV last night. The play calling was abysmal and Thomas suffered. However, they do tend to get stronger every year as the season goes on. So I’m not going to hammer Thomas right now, far from it. He will improve. And I’m almost certain he won’t declare for 2013 anyway given he didn’t attend the Manning Passing Academy.

      • Brendan Scolari

        Fair points. I was just expecting more given all I had heard about him, but it was one game.

    • Mattk

      Brendan, I think you summed up Logan’s performance well. He didn’t look the part of a first round. And maybe it’s just me, but does anyone else think Logan’s looks to have added some weight since last year (and not the good weight)?

  3. Kip Earlywine

    What strikes me about Jones is just how he “looks the part” physically and mechanically. He also showed some head tilt when progressing through reads- something that I barely if ever saw from him last year. It shows that he’s challenging himself to rely less on his first read. That’s a good sign.

    Last year I said that Jones was like a rich man’s Nick Foles. I didn’t think much of Nick Foles based on what he did in Arizona. Foles went to Philly, and just completed a shockingly good preseason. I do not think Jones is a terribly polished QB, but he’s well ahead of Foles was last year and you can already see how far Foles has come.

    In a more typical year, I think Jones would be a strong candidate to be a 1st round pick. However, with Barkley, Thomas, Smith, and possibly Manuel, Bray, Murray and others crowding the field in round 1, we might see Jones slip into round 2. This is potentially a great year for Seattle to pick up a QB to groom in round 2 or 3 depending on how things fall. I don’t think Jones fits our scheme all that well, but I didn’t think Foles fit the Eagles either, so who knows? Carroll has shown himself to be adaptable everywhere else. He’s a huge fan of Barkley and the team rated Cousins highly, and neither are mobile QBs.

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