The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t the type of organization that is going to make a change just for the sake of change. If they make a decision that something needs to be different, there is going to be a reason behind it. That’s why it was significant when they did not renew Randy Fichnter’s contract as offensive coordinator, replacing him with Matt Canada.
While the offense put up good numbers in Fichtner’s first season in 2018—Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 5,000 yards with a franchise-record 34 touchdowns—the last two years have made the limitations in his playcalling and design pretty clear. One thing we’ve harped on is his lack of pre-snap versatility, but it seems Canada has worked to address that.
“He’s getting into a lot of sets in different ways, which I think is nice, because you can run the same play and make it look like three, four different plays”, second-year wide receiver Chase Claypool told the NFL Network crew yesterday about Canada’s offense. “Half of the offense is the same as last year, and then some just new terminology, so it’s not a whole new offense, a whole new playbook, just some of the things that are different”.
Everything is going to come at a different pace for everybody. Diontae Johnson did admit that there was some adjustment for him to all of the motion that is being put into the offense, and perhaps in his being asked to take on a larger role in the slot, but he ensured that they would get it.
The Steelers finished 12th in scoring offense last year, but things took a nosedive at the end of the season. They were held to under 20 points four games in a row, and only topped 22 points once in the final six weeks. They scored at least 24 points in the first 10 games, on the other hand, including three games of 35-plus points.
Some of that at least can be attributed to the offense’s inability to be flexible and to make adjustments, not just within a game, but over the course of the season. Defenses began to play against the Steelers’ tendencies, and they could not work off of them until Roethlisberger began running plays from the line of scrimmage.
The degeneration of the offensive line, particularly in the running game, but in the passing game as well, which required Roethlisberger to accelerate his time of release, was also an issue. Whether or not that will be better—or even worse—this season, is a matter that is up in the air, but it is Canada’s job to mask any deficiencies and accentuate any strengths.