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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Minnesota Vikings: Takeaways from the First Preseason Game

Our first preseason game is under our belt. What did we learn from our first game?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings were undefeated last preseason, so it wasn't catastrophic that the Steelers lost, especially with QB Landry Jones at the helm. What did we learn from our 14-3 preseason loss to the Vikings?

1) Landry Jones is weak. I was expecting a train wreck. Instead of a train wreck, we were treated to a multi-car pileup on the freeway. So, he did exceed my expectations.  Is it time for the Landry Jones Experiment (LJE) to end? With Bruce Gradkowski out, it is essential that our No. 3 guy can step in for Big Ben. With overthrown passes, close calls in terms of the play clock, and general inaccuracy, I say, Give Us Tajh or Give Us Death! Metaphorically, of course. I was also unimpressed with his decision to run for a first down. Not worth the risk at this point in the season.

2) Jesse James had a rough game. So rough, that it made me wish that Alejandro Villanueva were playing TE instead of offensive lineman. That said, Jesse James batted down catchable balls the same way behemoth Villanueva batted away players from the opposing defense. Mike Adams, watch out.

3) Who was one of the offense's greatest assets? Why, it was Trae Waynes. I was not impressed with the Vikings first-round pick. Between penalties and general ineptitude, he did more of the Steelers offense than Landry Jones did.

4) Dri Archer. Those two proper nouns should stand alone. His speed, agility, and overall instinct saved redeemed the day. I was not a fan of Archer last year, but I saw enough today to have hope that he can be an formidable and reliable special teams player and backup RB/WR combo when called upon.

5) Kevin Fogg was in the right place at the right time. He came a way with one interception and very few mistakes that I could discern. Listed at third-string, Kevin Fogg was reliable and did not give up any huge plays, tackling effectively and staying alert and aware. He did his job and did not allow the Vikings offense to get away with big plays.

6) Special teams. Um. In a word... or three: special teams sucked. On a positive note, with all the opportunities we had to punt, I had enough data to determine that Brad Wing is a better punter than Jordan Berry. Perhaps the biggest special teams problem was the injury to Shaun Suisham half way through the game. With the new PAT rule, it is important to have a reliable kicker. Let's just say if Mike Tomlin can't provide reassurance about the injury to Suisham, I'm nervous as all heck.

7) Shayon Green. Rough game. Jordan Zumwalt. Also a rough game. These players were either out of position or made the field seem like it was made out of old-school Slip-and-Slide material.

8) Trae Waynes. Again. The Minnesota Vikings' first-round pick was a huge asset to the Steelers offense by incurring penalties and providing a purple counterpart to Jesse James in terms of rookie-nerves, ineptitude, and overall poor playing.

9) Ryan Shazier. After he and Moats demonstrated tackling abilities more suited to TSA airport-security patdowns than professional football, I was pleased to see Shazier step up and play with aggression, speed, and accuracy. I would have liked to see more out of Moats.

10) Sammie Coates. If he had had a more competent QB, he would have been able to make bigger plays. As things stood, Coates was able to catch a deflected pass and almost catch a few very poor passes, one of which would have been a sure touchdown.

11) WR CJ Goodwin. I'm not sure he'll make it over Shakim Phillips, #19, who had several huge plays in a surprising performance. Goodwin was wide open in the endzone once, flailing his hands, attempting to let Landry Jones know "I'm open! I'm open!" He also had a turnover, however. Not an excellent way to say, "I deserve to be on the 53-man roster."

12) Cameron Stingily was a mixed bag. He received a lot of reps and was largely effective. Still, he had a few missteps which he probably cannot afford to repeat if he expects a spot on the team. Update: He is out with a "potentially serious" injury. Not a disaster for the team, but worth mentioning.

13) Bud Dupree. The Steelers needed a better pass rush so urgently that they picked up Bud Dupree in the first round of this year's draft. Did he live up to expectations? No. Does it matter? Not really. Dupree wasn't horrible. He was a bit slow and lacked the dynamic, intuitive playing style we hoped he'd have, but the Steelers have plenty of time to develop and evaluate their first-round pick.

14) Let's all take a moment to thank the Philadelphia Eagles and Chip Kelly for the gift of Brandon "Boy King" Boykin. He did not disappoint.

15) I'm not a "must believe the hype"  kind of person, but I saw one play out of Roosevelt Nix that was so quick, so powerful, so straight-up phenomenal that I'm a convert. He is definitely on my radar now, and I hope to see more such plays out of him this preseason.

16) As bad as Landry Jones was, his offensive line deserved some credit. Even the backups were able to provide him enough time in the pocket to make some halfway-decent plays. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak is a genius.

Though the Steelers lost the game, there were some flashes of competence, ingenuity, acumen, instinct, hustle, and drive. At this point, even a loss provides valuable data to the coaching staff and front office as they make difficult (and some not-so-difficult) decisions about the final 53-man roster.