Uncertainty is inherent in change, to some degree. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense has experienced a good deal of change since last season. The majority of their offensive line from recent years is gone. Their starting running back is gone. Half of the offensive coaching staff, too, is gone. That may prove to be as significant as any other component.
Making a change at offensive coordinator is arguably the single largest variable you can have on an offense short of changing your quarterback or head coach, which comes with its own host of potential ramifications.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are just beginning the process of finding out what it means to move on from Randy Fichtner to Matt Canada, the new captain of the ship on the scoring side of the ball. And they have new pieces — Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, Dan Moore, Jr. — to install into the system at the same time.
“We are just getting to know them and doing some introductory things”, head coach Mike Tomlin said following today’s rookie minicamp practice about Canada’s offense and how the rookies might be utilized within it. “I think as the days and weeks continue to unfold and we get a sense of how they learn and the up-close perspective on their talents, those will be more significant questions”.
“I think the blending of the rookies with the veteran guys are a big component of that” as well, he added. “When they are just working with the rookies, that is somewhat of a waste of time. Really, we are just looking at him in terms of just what they are doing relative to this group, the people we have in front of us now”.
Harris is the only running back the Steelers have in rookie minicamp this year, due to the COVID-19 restrictions on the number of tryout players teams were permitted to invite this year. The only quarterback is rookie tryout Roland Rivers. Needless to say, the majority of ‘the offense’ that will actually be starting games this year is not in the building right now.
It will take some time to answer important questions about Canada’s offense, and how players like Harris and Freiermuth fit within it. It’s a big simpler for offensive linemen — they block defenders. But even there, you have matters of scheme. How big of a component will pulling from center be? With an athlete like Green, you figure it’s coming. But he has to earn a starting job, first.
The reality is that the offense will be a continually evolving product over the course of the season, even over several seasons, assuming that Canada remains on board under Tomlin. This is his first year as a coordinator at the NFL level — just his second in the league after spending a long time at the college level — so he’s still finding his voice, and the Steelers are helping him search.