Steelers vs. Vikings: takeaways


Well, that was messy. As Mike Tomlin put it after the Steelers lost to the Vikings in the NFL preseason debut, they were “easy to beat.”

The worst thing to come out of the loss was an injury to place kicker Shaun Suisham. For some reason, Suisham was running down to make a tackle on kickoff and injured his knee. The Steelers will be looking to sign a kicker this week while they assess the injury to Suisham.

If it’s serious, this injury could create a problem for the Steelers. Heinz Field is not an easy place to kick, and Shaun Suisham is the best at it. Bringing in a new kicker with no experience of the stadium’s unique kicking challenges could lead to a poor conversion percentage.

The Steelers’ four best players on offense didn’t play. Landry Jones looked decent once he got the snap, but it was getting the snap that was the problem. The Steelers were called for a few false starts and delay of game penalties that could have been avoided by better clock management from Jones.

Despite his pre-snap struggles, Jones’ stat sheet doesn’t tell the story. Jones threw a few incompletions that could have been caught by receivers, three of which could have gone for touchdowns (two were on consecutive plays, so had the first been caught the second would not have been thrown).

He wasn’t playing with the team’s best offensive weapons, but the standard is the standard, as Tomlin might put it. Jones needs to step up and lead if he wants to supplant Bruce Gradkowski as the number two quarterback. A coach just won’t be comfortable inserting a player into the lineup if he can’t even get the snap off before the play clock expires.

The defense looked quick, although Ryan Shazier and Arthur Moats each missed tackles on the opening drive–we’ll attribute that to offseason rust, I suppose. Shazier bounced back to blow up a short yardage play on fourth down. That came right after Lawrence Timmons punished a Viking receiver to force the fourth down attempt.

Brandon Boykin was a highlight. He batted down a pass on a blitz on one play and made an aggressive tackle for little gain on another. Considering he’s only had a week in the defense, it was good that he was only noticed for good play.

Dri Archer was another highlight. He showed patience without sacrificing his quickness, eluding defenders in high-traffic areas. He needs to keep his feet under him and maintain balance. There were a few plays on which he essentially tackled himself. He did muff and recover a punt, but showed he can be a contributor in the return game.

There is still a lot of preseason play before games start to matter again. The biggest piece of news to come out of this game is the injury to Suisham. At the end of the day, the result of this game doesn’t matter, but the team needs to get used to playing winning football–regardless of who’s on the field.

Next: Wheaton or Bryant?

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