Last month, Landry Jones stated that he would be shunning the NFL and returning to the Oklahoma Sooners for his senior season. The question that has been burning in my mind since then is this:
Can Landry Jones really lead the Sooners to a national championship?
For one reason or another, I just can't seem to shake this overwhelming thought that he has taken the Sooners as far as he can already. While he led Oklahoma to a Fiesta Bowl win in 2009, it was against quite possibly the worst team in the BCS era (an unranked UConn squad who finished 8-5).
Jones is one of those players who, by looking at stats on a piece of paper, can really impress you. Last season, he threw for 4463 yards, 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Those are not numbers to scoff at.
However, what Mr. Jones lacks is intangibles.
For starters, he may be the most immobile quarterback in the entire nation. While he has proven to be accurate with good pocket protection, you could say the same for nearly any Division I quarterback.
Defenses have begun to pick up on the fact that if you blitz Landry Jones, you will make him hesitate. Jones is likely to then either take a sack or force a bad pass, which will lead to a turnover more times than not.
Fortunately, the Sooners have a solid offensive line that has been able to protect their quarterback for the majority of games. However, all it takes is one play for "bad" Landry to rear his head and change the entire course of a game.
After his security blanket (also known as Ryan Broyles) went down with a season-ending injury against Texas A&M last season, Landry threw just one touchdown for the remainder of the season. That lonely touchdown pass came against Iowa in the Insight Bowl.
Landry is known for crumbling come crunch time. For every big-time play he completes, there is an equally impressive bone-headed play that is soon to follow.
That wild inconsistency is what really bothers me. There are games when I really start to think that maybe, just maybe, Landry has finally put it all together. I am inevitably then reminded of his carelessness with the ball as I watch him magically allow teams back into games in which they have no business being, handing them the ball deep in Sooner territory.
I will freely admit that, before Landry announced his return, I had hoped he would enter the draft. I have a man-crush on Blake Bell and just feel like he has so much more potential. We can only hope that Stoops finds a way to make the Jones-Bell combination work like the Leak-Tebow combo from the 2006 Florida Gators.
Landry will have some extra weapons this year, though, that he was not suited with last year.
He will have a healthy Dom Whaley carrying the ball and crushing defenders. He will have Mike Stoops running the defense, which should decrease the amount of games that Landry is expected to carry the load in a shootout. He will also have additional targets at wide receiver from the recruiting class coming in.
I do believe Landry Jones is a talented player and he may even have a successful career in the NFL as a solid backup somewhere. However, I fear he has maxed out his potential at Oklahoma.
Maybe if the Sooners can stay healthy this year then things could be different. Maybe this is finally the year Landry breaks out and truly shines.
Maybe...but I wouldn't bet on it.