Former Steelers quarterback Landry Jones has landed in familiar surroundings in the XFL.
Jones, who was the first player to sign with the league, has been assigned as the starting quarterback of the Dallas Renegades.
The Renegades are the closest team to both Jones’ New Mexico hometown and where he went to college in Oklahoma. He’ll also be coached by his former college coach: longtime Sooners boss Bob Stoops.
Jones spent five seasons with the Steelers after joining the team as a fourth-round draft pick back in 2013. In 19 career games, Jones made five starts and was 3-2 as a starter. He finished his time with the Steelers 108 of 169 passing for 1,310 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.
He lost a three-way battle for a job with Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph in the 2018 preseason and also spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders before signing with the upstart spring league.
Jones told Steelers Now back in August that Dallas would be an ideal situation for him.
“We all get put into a big pool for the draft,” he said. “I’m sure they’re figuring some of that stuff out too. I don’t know who else they’ve been speaking to and plan to sign, but I’d love to play here in Dallas for Coach Stoops.”
Quarterbacks signed to the league and then were assigned to each teams. The other assignments were as follows:
Cardale Jones, DC Defenders
Philip Walkers, Houston Roughnecks
Luis Perez, Los Angeles Wildcats
Matt McGloin, New York Guardians
Jordan Ta’amu, St. Louis Battlehawks
Brandon Silvers, Seattle Dragons
Aaron Murray, Tampa Bay Vipers
The rest of the XFL’s players will be selected as part of a two-day draft process on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Our head coaches are excited about this first wave of quarterback assignments and the talent level in our draft pool,” XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said in a press release. “We will continue to identify and sign the best players available, and we are confident this is a strong start to the next two days.”
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/24/20
While it’s odd to see referees standing out in a clip of highlights, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s plan to incorporate actual refs into practice this week happened on Thursday.
Tomlin explained he is adding refs to practice to ensure his team is more disciplined, which hopefully leads to less penalties in their game this week compared to last week.
Wide receivers James Washington, Diontae Johnson and tight end Eric Ebron run routes and catch passes in this clip.
Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger Says Form, Mechanics Can Be Better Despite Hot Start
To hear Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tell it, he can better than what he’s shown on the field in his first two weeks since returning from elbow surgery.
He’s not happy with his footwork, he thinks he’s dropping his arm a bit and needs a more consistent release point.
The statistics, however tell another story. They say Roethlisberger has been operating at a higher level of precision than ever before. So which is it? Maybe both.
“I do feel I got a little lazy with my feet, which then, in turn, translated to a lazy arm,” Roethlisberger said. “There were some throws that I kind of dropped my elbow, if you will. I don’t want to get too technical, but it became more of a three-quarter release instead of an over the top when I didn’t need to. There are obviously times you have to change your release point. There were too many throws, I felt looking back, that I just have to get my feet working better, and that will then translate, hopefully, to the rest of the body. Then, I won’t be guiding some of the throws.”
Here’s an example from the game Roethlisberger’s form getting a little sloppy. He throws this ball flat-footed and almost all with his right side, getting less power behind it than usual and resulting in a pass that ends up behind JuJu Smith-Shuster instead of allowing him to build a head of steam toward the defenders at the line of scrimmage.
Is this a big deal here? Not really. Smith-Schuster probably couldn’t have done much better than he did at bulling over the defender, anyway. But this is also a route into the flat on the near side of the field. Over longer distances, that can make a big difference.
“I’ve gotten away with it in the past being able to not necessarily be perfect from the ground up and just letting my arm kind of make up for a lot of things, a lot of imperfections if you talk to quarterback people,” Roethlisberger said. “I feel great. I just need to get it in my mind that I can still make the throws when I’m not in the perfect position to make them.”
All of that can be true, and yet, it’s hard to argue with the results. Through two games, Roethlisberger has a 68.5 completion percentage. His career season high was 68% in 2015. In a game and a half last year, it was 56.5%.
His passer rating, even with an interception against the Broncos, is 107.1. His career season-long high came in 2o07, when he finished with a 104.1 mark. Last season before his injury, it was 66.
Some of that can be explained by a passing scheme that has take fewer deep shots down the field than it has in years past. His yards per pass attempt sits at 7.4, lower than all but four of his other 16 seasons.
Mechanical inconsistency can certainly have a greater impact on longer throws, so the Steelers’ somewhat more methodical offensive approach could be helping Roethlisberger get into the swing of things.
“Maybe some of that just comes from not playing a lot of football,” he posited. “I played two games this year. I played a game and a half last year, so really, it’s about three and a half games in two years if you think about it. It’ll come. Like I said, if I’m having these issues and we are still winning football games, that’s a plus.”
If a 2-0 record with career highs in passer rating and completion percentage is what he looks like with mechanical issues, the NFL should be very worried about what might happen if he gets into a groove.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/23/20
David DeCastro practices with the Steelers after missing the first two games of the season. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin explained to the media, including Mike Asti and Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, that he is evaluating DeCastro and he could start their week 3 game against Houston.
Joe Haden can also seen working on one-on-one coverage drills with the rest of the secondary.
Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers