Bad football is better than no football in my book and that’s exactly what we got last night in the Hall of Fame Game. The Steelers limped out of Canton with a 14-3 loss which of course means doodly-squat in the grand scheme of things. Winning and losing is not the priority in the preseason.
Here are my top three things I took from last night.
1. The Landry Jones experiment has run its’ course. I’ve been critical of Jones’ selection in the fourth of the draft three years ago and unfortunately I’m not wavering from that. Despite some improved mechanics and better footwork, Jones just doesn’t do the things necessary to be an NFL quarterback.
His reads in my opinion are still based largely on just the first or second receiver. He rarely checks past number two. His throws were often inaccurate and many of those were on the types of passes an NFL quarterback must hit the receiver nine times out of time and Jones just isn’t doing it.
In his defense, he got little help from some receivers including rookie tight end Jesse James who couldn’t have had a worse night. Not only did James drop a sure TD but he also bobbled a pass into the arms of a Vikings’ defender. Those aren’t on Jones, but the evidence was there enough for me to say we need to see Tajh Boyd in the next game.
Overall, Jones was 16 for 32 for 128 yards and a pick but where he really struggled was in the second half where he was way under 50% for his completion rate.
2. The defense was vanilla with a twist. Not surprisingly, Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler kept the defense pretty basic last night. Sure, we saw the famous ‘X-fire’ blitz from the inside linebackers, but outside of that things were pretty simple.
Where the twist in this vanilla cone comes in as with the cornerback blitzes we saw. Newly acquired Brandon Boykin could not have looked more comfortable coming off the edge last night and he looked good in coverage as well. If this was a sign of things to come from Butler in terms of pressure from the corners then I’m all for it.
It’s something the Dick LeBeau got away from and I’m glad, for one night at least, that it’s back.
3. Suisham injury is a major blow. Steelers place kicker Shaun Suisham left Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium last night on crutches. Head Coach Mike Tomlin said the knee injury “looks significant.” Do not for one second underestimate the blow this is to the Steelers.
Suisham has mastered kicking inside 40 yards, especially in Heinz Field which is no picnic. His consistency is a huge loss for the Steelers. What will now happen is the Steelers will likely bring in several guys to compete for the job if this injury is indeed as bad as we think.
The only good news here is that this happened in the first preseason game rather than the last. This should give the Steelers ample time to find a replacement.
photo courtesy newsday.com