The Pittsburgh Steelers saw their first glimpse of the Matt Canada era offensively Thursday night, and it was awesome to see the amount of pre- and at-snap motion the new offensive coordinator plans to work into the system.
Though there are still some kinks to work out, especially with veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger not dressing Thursday night and a handful of projected starting linemen not playing, it’s clear what Canada is going for with this Steelers’ offense in 2021.
That said, it’s hard to take much of anything away from Thursday’s performance, that is unless you’re NFL.com’s Nick Shook.
Shook, who wrote a piece for the flagship’s website, wrote that the Steelers still have much work to do offensively in training camp and the preseason before they’re ready to do anything in the regular season.
You don’t say?
“The Matt Canada era is underway in Pittsburgh, and it might mislead you,” Shook writes. “The Steelers rolled out the very beginnings of a new offense on Thursday night and proved rather quickly just how novel it is. Plenty of motion preceded the snap and, on one occasion, such motion contributed to a botched snap, leading to a fumble and Parsons recovery. The Steelers’ offense is clearly novel to all of its personnel, and it’s going to take some time before they get acclimated enough to run it smoothly. Thursday was an incomplete sample, of course, considering Ben Roethlisberger spent the game in a hoodie and baseball hat, and Pittsburgh’s offensive line is still finding its footing. But if we learned one thing about the Steelers when they possess the ball, it’s that they still need the weeks of practice and preseason games ahead.”
I’m not sure how Shook took away from Thursday night that the Steelers’ offense is novel to all the players, considering the Steelers have been installing Canada’s offense since OTAs. Nowhere in Thursday night’s game did I take away that the Steelers were confused by their own system or somehow uncomfortable, but hey, anything to push the narrative that it’s a gimmick offense with too much going on.
I just couldn’t imagine typing out Shook’s final line at any point in the preseason. Of course the Steelers need more time to fully immerse themselves in the system before they’re firing on all cylinders. At this point, if anyone thinks that Thursday’s offensive display was the full arsenal that Canada has at his disposal, and that this is what the offense will look like all year, then you’ve been living under a rock.
The Steelers were never going to come out and show much of anything in the first preseason game. A lot of what they showed was pretty vanilla, which is totally normal in the preseason. The offense has had its ups and downs in training camp, but taking away any real thoughts from Thursday night’s game one way or the other is a disservice to your audience as an analyst.