Chase Claypool had one year under Randy Fichtner. And he’s had one offseason under Matt Canada. To him, Canada’s offense is more fun and gives guys like Claypool more options and versatility. Talking with reporters after practice, Claypool was asked to evaluate Canada’s offense heading into the regular season. He started by saying the offense has changed in a positive way.
“I think the offense did change,” he told reporters via video from the team. “I think for the better, I think it’s a lot more fun to run the offense. We got a lot more options and versatility with the offense.”
That’s been on display for anyone attending a training camp practice or watching a Steelers’ preseason game. Under Fichtner and even Todd Haley, pre-snap motion and playaction numbers were among football’s lowest. Those figures have shot up under Canada, who used both as an offensive staple in college. That’s proven true based on the charting our Tom Mead did who posted these numbers in his preseason recap.
“There were 29 play action plays on 138 passing plays (21%). In 2020 play action was used 79 times in 17 games or 10.9% of the time.
The Steelers had a man in motion at the snap on 53 plays or 21.3% of the time an increase from the 14.2% last year.”
Playaction rate doubled while the team’s motion rate increased at nearly the same rate. Much of that was without Ben Roethlisberger under center, all but three drives this preseason, but those numbers figure to remain higher than they’ve been in many years.
Canada’s philosophy is about using leverage, tempo, and constraint. Leverage with motion to get the defense out of position. Tempo with his motion and shifts to keep the defense off-balanced, in addition to running no-huddle. And constraint to run multiple plays off the same exact look, not allowing defenses any easy pre-snap keys or reads.
Claypool also noted he’ll line up all over the field this year.
“We’ll be moving in and out all year. I think that’s the best thing about what we got going on.”
In fairness, Claypool moved around quite a bit last season. As a rookie under Fichtner, 37.7% of his wide receiver snaps came as some form of a slot receiver with at least one other player to his outside. Some of the “new” in Canada’s offense is the same as the old but simply called something different or with a minor tweak to the concept.
“Some of the stuff we’re calling it the same thing. We just have some new tags that we’re adding onto it. So it’s a similar offense, but we’re just adding stuff to it.”
It helps Canada was on-staff last year as the team’s QB coach. That makes him a familiar face even in his new role and eases the transition of a new offensive coordinator, especially for Ben Roethlisberger in what could be his final NFL year.