Matt Canada may have his ideal vision of how he wants to run an NFL offense. But every good coach has to tailor his preferences to the personnel he’s working with. That’s especially true for an offensive coordinator and a quarterback, especially a brand new NFL playcaller matched with a 39-year old, Hall of Fame quarterback. Canada spoke to reporters on Tuesday to talk about how he plans to run the Steelers’ offense. What works best for Ben Roethlisberger is at the top of his list.
Here’s what Canada said via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor.
Matt Canada on Ben Roethlisberger: "I think any football, it's 11 men doing their job. The quarterback is the focal point … we're going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it."
Says there are some changes in terminology and how plays are called.
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) June 15, 2021
Here’s Canada’s full quote on Ben.
“Football, it’s 11 men doing their job and the quarterback is the focal point. It’s the greatest position in all of sports in my opinion because of all the things you have to do. And we’re going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it. Our job is putting every player in position to make plays. So there are changes with terminology, how we’re calling things, which has been an adjustment for Ben, and he’s been great and really learning it, doing really well with it. And I think he has adapted easily like we all knew that he would. But to answer to your question, that is our job. Matchups are how you win football games. Ben starts with the quarterback, what does he do? Well, what does he like? What does he see? What is good to his eye in the passing game? And we build off of that.”
The dynamic between Canada and Roethlisberger will be one of the most interesting pairings to watch this season. Canada has come from an under-center, motion-heavy type of offense. For the past several years, the Steelers’ offense has been static and in shotgun the vast majority of the time. No play action, not a lot of window dressing, just line up, throw the ball, make a play. That’s not what the best offenses in football are doing.
Both sides will need a level of compromise. Canada can’t have Roethlisberger under 80% of his time, constantly run roll-outs, and expect the offense to work well. But the offense can’t be the same version of itself as it was a year ago, either. Striking that balance, and doing so quickly, will be key. If they don’t, the relationship and Steelers’ offense will struggle. Roethlisberger’s already admitted Canada’s offense is a big departure in language and terminology. A hurdle that can be overcome, but the first of several obstacles.
No matter how they scheme it, the Steelers’ run game will have to improve. That’s been the team’s goal since the moment the offseason began, and Pittsburgh’s taken several steps to address that, including Canada’s promotion to OC. He’ll be just as responsible for improving the team there as he will be maximizing what could be Roethlisberger’s final season.