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This much is certain about Pittsburgh Steelers fans: They love their backup quarterbacks.

It's only natural considering the long lines of lousy starters through the decades.

Former player and Steelers radio analyst Tunch Ilkin likes to say the only quarterback Pittsburgh never booed was Scottie Campbell.

That's because Campbell started only one home game, near the end of a bad 1985 season, and did OK in a loss to a powerful team.

But they've booed the starters here, even cheered Terry Bradshaw once when he was injured.

And then Bradshaw began winning rings and the booing stopped.

Ben Roethlisberger won two rings and has managed to escape their wrath as well, so Steelers fans, in a change of form, haven't wanted Landry Jones.

Jones has been a backup QB in Pittsburgh since he was drafted in the fourth round following a record-setting career at Oklahoma in 2013. He started two games last year after Roethlisberger and Michael Vick were injured, and won one of them.

But now that he's been penciled into the starting lineup to replace the injured Roethlisberger this Sunday against the New England Patriots, fans are calling for the guy who's won none of them, Zach Mettenberger, he of the 0-10 football record, he who's been kicked out of one college and cut by two NFL teams, he who was claimed off the waiver wire by the Steelers last Aug. 31 at the 25th spot of the claiming pool.

Mettenberger threw eight passes for the Steelers in preseason. He completed three, one to the other team. His passer rating was 0.0.

Jones threw one pass last week and it was incomplete, a throwaway on a bad play call that fell incomplete. His passer rating was 39.6.

Roethlisberger returned in the second half of that game, but the next day needed to undergo a cleanup procedure to trim meniscus in his left knee. He's been ruled out this week and the media race to promote the backup QB was on.

"Mettenberger is a better quarterback than Landry Jones. Always has been and always will be," wrote one radio guy who's never even been to a practice.

The fans, of course, are following that lead, all over the radio, all over the internet.

Jones is in a particularly bad spot in this town. He's never been the backup for whom fans have lusted, and is already the guy they want replaced.

Of course, the tenuous ground Jones walks upon has come with some good reasons. His passer rating in four preseasons is 68.4, and while often playing with starters, his 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. Jones was thrust into last season's playoff game at Cincinnati with a 15-7 fourth-quarter lead. He was sacked, intercepted and left the game trailing 16-15 before the injured and re-inserted Roethlisberger pulled out a win with the help of Vontaze Burfict and Pacman Jones.

Jones has had his moments, though. He replaced Vick last season against Arizona with a 10-6 third-quarter deficit and threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant, led the Steelers to a pair of field goals and topped off the 25-13 win with a late touchdown throw to Bryant, who took a short pass and ran 88 yards with it. Jones' 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 win over Oakland after replacing an injured Roethlisberger and driving the Steelers 79 yards for a short field goal and 38-35 win. The key again was a short pass, this time taken 57 yards by Antonio Brown.

At his best, Jones is the game manager the Steelers need to allow players such as Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Sammie Coates make the plays.

"He's a good communicator," said Mike Tomlin. "It’s part of the functions of being a backup quarterback, the talking of schematics and the seeing of what is on the field and the communicating of such. He has grown in a lot of ways in that area in the last several years. Hopefully that’s an asset to him as we prepare and ultimately play this week."

Yep, at best, he's a game manager, but that's not likely to fair well against the juggernaut Tom Brady's bringing to a place he once, to a hot mic, said he dislikes very much.

Point totals of 41, 23, 34, 39, 55 and 28 followed that 41-27 whuppin' Brady and the Patriots put on the Steelers in that AFC Championship Game, when he walked out of Heinz Field so smugly.

No, Brady and Bill Belichick despise the Steelers and the so-called rivalry they love to trash at every opportunity.

Of course, the Steelers on their very best day have defeated the Brady-led Patriots. It was by 25-17 in 2011. Roethlisberger threw 50 times that day.

But that's not how the Steelers are going to be able to use Jones. No, the star of this game would have to be Bell in a controlled, smartly managed, mistake-free performance by the quarterback.

Even then the defense would have to play its best game of the season.

If not, if the Patriots do the expected and Jones can't keep up, look for the crowd to get ugly in its calls for Mettenberger.

It'll be a scene right out of the '80s, and a hint of what the post-Roethlisberger era, a Back to the Future scene for sure, will no doubt look like.

Jim Wexell is the publisher of the Scout Network's

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