As our Tom Mead proved in an offseason study, the Pittsburgh Steelers decreased their amount of pre-snap motion last season. There’s likely several reasons for that but Chase Claypool thinks defenses were finally catching up to what Pittsburgh was doing.
Speaking with the media after Saturday’s practice, Claypool explained why some of the shifts and motions went away as the season went along.
“I think teams definitely caught onto it,” Claypool said via a video off the Steelers’ website. “So I think we’re trying to mix things up a little bit. And make a couple of things look the same with different plays going on.”
That last sentence Claypool said is a key one. What he’s referring to is “constraint plays.” Have formations, shifts, and motions look the same pre-snap but have a different result post-snap. For example, running a jet sweep one play and then faking it the next and handing the ball to the back opposite the motion.
We touched on that point in our recent video review of Canada’s offense. He did a good job of creating a rhythmic offense, producing results even when he generally had lesser talent than the other team. The NFL’s most successful offenses do a good job at keeping defenses guessing and messing with their eyes. If everything looks the same, there’s nothing for the defender to key.
Here’s what we wrote in our recent film breakdown.
“Canada does a good job of building off those jet looks. They can be the actual playcall or they can be window dressing. He prefers to fake a jet to the field side and then run inside zone away from it to the boundary side. Get the defense’s eyes and feet moving away from where the ball is going.”
Click the link for a couple examples of that.
Those type of constraint plays have sorely been missing from this offense in recent years. For Canada, they’re one of his calling cards. It will hopefully make the Steelers’ offense a little more varied. Though they have one of the least mobile quarterbacks in football, much of what Canada has done in college can work in the Steelers’ system. As we’ve also pointed out, he’s worked with mobile and non-mobile QBs alike.