The Pittsburgh Steelers have had more turnover this offseason, and turnover of more significant names than has been typical in most years. With prominent starters like Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Maurkice Pouncey, Alejandro Villanueva, and Matt Feiler now gone, they have a lot of questions that need answering.
They also hope that turnover on the coaching staff will help provide some of those answers. Most notably with the switch from Randy Fichtner at offensive coordinator to Matt Canada, who is getting the opportunity to really put his imprint on the offense this year after spending last season as the quarterbacks coach. Rookie second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth already likes what he sees.
“It’s complex, but it’s simple in the same way. I think Coach Canada puts guys on the field where they can create mismatches, and I think he does a good job just understanding and figuring out what the defense’s weaknesses are”, he told reporters earlier today. “I can see that with the looks that he gave out there with the ‘look’ team today, and just what he’s put together in camp so far. I really like the offense, and I enjoy being in it so far”.
Freiermuth comes in as a replacement for Vance McDonald, yet another departure this offseason, via retirement. He will work with Eric Ebron at the tight end position, which the Steelers hope will give them more versatility on offense with the ability to feature a dynamic two-tight end package out of which they can both run and pass the ball effectively. The use of motion will be a part of that as well, the rookie has already observed.
“There’s a decent amount [of motion], just from the first install that we did”, he said earlier today after practice. “I didn’t really have a lot of pre-snap motion at Penn State. Sometimes we’d motion depending on a look or something like that, but we would at Penn State kind of get set and roll with what we had. It’s something to get adjusted to, but I felt good doing it today”.
The Steelers tried working some of that in last season. In the early portions of the year they were actually among the teams who used it most. Their motion at the snap, rather than just anytime before the snap, was still lower. They frankly were not particularly effective.
One must hope that that was because it was utilized as an incongruous add-on to an offensive system for which it was not structured, and that Canada will be more effective in integrating the motion into his own style of offense. On paper, there’s certainly no reason why they would not be able to be an effective motion offense, with the athletic skill position players they have at their disposal.