Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin gave an oblique answer yesterday when he was asked about what kind of imprint he felt first-year quarterbacks coach Matt Canada could have on the offense. A long-time offensive coordinator and playcaller at the college level, he was brought in not just because he can coach quarterbacks, but because he is regarded as having a good offensive mind as well.
“I think that’s going to be determined as he finds his footing as an assistant, and the first week is probably not a good opportunity for that”, Tomlin said during his pre-game press conference. “As we they get a rhythm of how we function as a team, we’re open to input from those guys and perspective from those guys, and I’m sure it’ll increase as we get into this journey”.
He won’t be the one on the field, however. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be, and he gave a much different answer, going so far as to say in so many words that Canada’s influence will be obvious and be seen as early as the opener.
“This offense will have his fingerprints all over it, and you’ll see some stuff on Monday night, I’m pretty sure, with those motions”, the 17th-year veteran told reporters earlier today when speaking to the media about Canada’s influence. “So hopefully we can just be successful with it”.
He acknowledged that working with pre-snap motions and some other wrinkles has been a new experience for him that he has had to adjust to, but in speaking with teammates about how its use affects them, it has helped him to buy in.
“I think the biggest thing, it’s definitely different for a player like myself that’s been in the NFL for so long, because it does have a lot of college feel to it”, he said. “I know some teams have started to do it in the NFL the last couple years”.
“So it’s different for me, and it’s taken some getting used to”, he continued, “but I’ve asked the linemen and our defense what it does for them, and it definitely throws the defense into a little bit of a tizzy when you see the motion and you’re not sure who’s getting the ball. And it helps the linemen block sometimes, too, because it helps declare on defenses”.
On this topic, I think I’m taking Roethlisberger’s word over Tomlin. Expect to see the Steelers’ offense look somewhat different on Monday night against the New York Giants. There will be more moving around before the ball is snapped, certainly, as the most obvious difference.
Of course, that’s not why Canada was brought in, primarily. This team has three young quarterbacks on the roster behind a 38-year-old starter who is coming back from having three tendons reattached in his throwing elbow. He’s not here to just tinker with the offense.