If the theme of Matt Canada’s offense will be pre-snap motion, and there’s a good chance it is, it’ll be a big departure from where the Pittsburgh Steelers were at a year ago. In PFF’s evaluation of every single offense, they included this nugget of information about what the Steelers’ offense did — or didn’t — do last season.
“The Steelers used pre-snap motion at the 23rd-highest rate in the league, while the Terrapins used it at the second-highest rate in college football.”
It’s no surprise to see Pittsburgh ranked in the bottom third of pre-snap motion a year ago. They started the season with a good infusion of it but by mid-season, it faded, and was virtually gone by the end of the year as Pittsburgh’s offense went into a shell.
Our Tom Mead recently outlined a study that showed the same thing, the motion rate decreasing throughout the year and after the team’s first 15 “scripted” plays.
As PFF’s article notes, Canada was one of college football’s biggest fans of pre-snap motion. So far this spring, several offensive players have noted the uptick in pre-snap motion and the college-esque feel of the Steelers’ offense.
Ideally, he’ll be able to use the horizontal passing game more effectively this season, winning with leverage, space, and getting playmakers the ball on the run. Almost all of football’s top offenses today — Baltimore, Kansas City, San Francisco — use plenty of motion before the snap. There are pros and cons to it, like everything else, and the Steelers don’t have to finish in the top five to have a successful season. But they do need to increase their frequency.
They also noted a discrepancy in shotgun usage.
“Last year, the Steelers played in shotgun at the fourth-highest rate in the league. Canada’s last college offense, the 2018 Maryland Terrapins, did it at the 117th-ranked rate in the country.”
That’s why the offense could use plenty of pistol in 2021 as a compromise to create a better downhill run game but keep Roethlisberger away from being under center. But the exact stamp Canada puts on this offense and what compromises get made won’t be revealed for at least another five weeks when training camp opens up.