It’s not uncommon that you hear talk during the offseason about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ plans to implement a new wrinkle of some kind in the offense or the defense, only to see it fail to come to fruition. You may even see them working on it throughout training camp and running it in preseason games, only to abandon it in the regular season.
The incorporation of some of Matt Canada’s influence, however, doesn’t appear to be one of those instances, as the Steelers are decidedly making more use of pre-snap motion and things of that nature at this juncture, obviously, globally speaking.
In his 17th season, at 38 years old, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger admits that it has been a bit of an adjustment to incorporate some of these new and expanded ideas into his understanding of an offense that he has been running for a good chunk of his life, but he is settling down with it now, and has seen some of its benefits.
“I’m just starting to get more comfortable understanding all the new terminology, the verbiage, where guys are motioning to, when they get it and when they don’t get it”, he said. “It seems to be helping us in our run game, so that’s really what matters most to me”.
By and large, the Steelers have run a pretty static offense for most of Roethlisberger’s career without much dynamics, especially in their pre-snap behavior. Canada, who was hired to be the team’s quarterback’s coach this year so that Randy Fichtner could focus on his offensive coordinator role, has brought in new ideas that are, frankly, serving as a way for Pittsburgh to catch up on league trends that have been passing them by.
With talent and speed from the likes of Diontae Johnson and Ray-Ray McCloud, however, who are threats to run sweeps and end-arounds, it would be foolish for the Steelers not to take advantage of what little edge there may be to be gained from a little bit of window dressing.
Speaking of the running game, they have rushed for 419 yards through three games at 4.7 yards per attempt, which ranks ninth in the league, respectively. They have boasted a 100-yard rusher in each of their first three games.
The pre-snap motion, of course, also serves the passing game, but more importantly, it has a broader week-to-week effect, as the more of it you put on tape, the more you give defenses to study, and as long as you employ pattern-breakers so that you’re not scripting every move, and run different plays from the same looks, you can remain unpredictable.