The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Ray-Ray McCloud will have a bigger role to play in Matt Canada’s offense.
Explanation: Outside of the likelihood of JuJu Smith-Schuster leaving and the opportunity to have a full offseason with the Steelers, the change in offensive coordinator will be of the largest benefit to Ray-Ray McCloud to receive more offensive playing time and more creative opportunities that put him in positions to succeed.
Any injection of flexibility into the offense should benefit McCloud. The Steelers were good for the occasional jet sweep here and there, but there are many different things we can expect Canada to bring to the table that could benefit a player of his skill set.
We already saw the adoption of more motion and things of that nature. McCloud did break off a very long run on one hand-off, and they can find more ways to put him in open space, putting him in return-like positions that allow him to use his greatest assets.
Even assuming that somebody else replaces Smith-Schuster, we could also see an expanded use of the four-receiver set, and hopefully, a wider variety of routes and throw depths. McCloud’s average depth of target last season was behind the line of scrimmage. That borders on absurd even for a running back not known to be a pass catcher.
While we know what Matt Canada did in college, we have seen a lot of college coaches try to come into the NFL and replicate what worked for them only to see it fail. We really have no idea if Canada’s offense is going to work any better than what the Steelers have been doing for years.
McCloud is a player who has already bounced around for a couple of years without finding a landing spot. He was even more of a gadget player in college. The likelihood of him, for example, developing into a featured slot receiver is rather unlikely no matter who the offensive coordinator is. That’s not meant as a slight, but it seems to strike close to the reality.