One of the most popularly offensive topics for the Pittsburgh Steelers in recent years has been their no-huddle offense, with the general perception being that they perform better when they go no-huddle, during which quarterback Ben Roethlisberger exercises more control of the plays.
It’s been discussed that the no-huddle package has been pared down this year, due to a combination of factors, not the least of which being the fact that there are four rookies starting. Having a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada who’s implemented his own changes and language is another factor, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t put the blame on him.
“We need to just execute the plays that are called”, he told reporters earlier today prior to practice. “Our coach does a great job of taking the blame and he doesn’t need to take any more. We, as players, need to take more accountability and blame. The plan is right, and we need to execute the plan and make it work”.
Canada is in his first season as offensive coordinator in the NFL, and his second season in the league, both with the Steelers, after serving as quarterbacks coach last year. He has a lengthy history as offensive coordinator at the college level, and has been consulted by NFL teams in the past.
While he has tried to adopt some new concepts into the offense, or at least to increase the usage of certain things that have previously been a rarity, we haven’t seen these changes result in an improvement in performance.
It may simply be that the talent level has to catch up, and that will take time. The offensive line is very different from what it was a year ago, including two rookies and a free agent signing. They have new rookie starters at running back and tight end, who have had their rookie moments. Their wide receivers have been banged up as well. All of that makes it more difficult to run out of the no-huddle much.
“You have to walk a fine line of guys getting tired”, Roethlisberger said. “Last week when JuJu [Smith-Schuster] got banged up and Diontae [Johnson] was down, we brought Cody [White] in. He did a great job. When guys are getting banged up and we’re getting thin, you have to be careful with what you’re doing”.
There isn’t much relief on the horizon. Outside of perhaps the addition of Zach Banner into the starting lineup, which may or may not be a minor improvement, the only way this offense is going to get any better this season is if their talent level improves through playing experience, individually and collectively, better executing the plays called.