The Pittsburgh Steelers offense not so long ago was threatening to be one of the best in the league. But it’s been a few years since then. There has been an awful lot of turnover, and even some surgeries, between now and then. The offensive line in particular has been a significant change, completely different from just two years ago.
And what it currently is, is not good enough. That’s the assessment from first-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who rebuffed a question earlier today about how ‘close’ the offensive line might be to hitting plays and being a solid unit.
“When you’re not having success on offense, that’s what, in my opinion, a not successful offense looks like: a breakdown here and there”, he said. “If it’s just one person, if it’s just one thing, then you fix that one person”.
Earlier in the week, lineman Zach Banner talked about how, in the tape study, they are seeing a number of plays being just one block away from hitting, and that it is a different person every time. the suggestion was that if they could just clean that up and get everyone on the same page on the same play, they can be successful; that they’re close to that.
“Close doesn’t matter”, Canada said. “You’ve got to win. Yes and no, we’ve got to do a better job—I’ve got to do a better job getting them in those positions, and we have to finish. Finish the play, finish the drive, score touchdowns, all those things”.
Globally, of course, he’s right. Close doesn’t matter, because a play that is close to working is still a failed play. Getting better is important, but only insofar as you are actually able to get to a point where you are successful and you’re contributing positively to wins.
With two rookies, a second-year player, a prior backup, and a former Pro Bowler whose play has emphasized the former more than the Pro Bowler, suffice it to say that there are a lot of things that can get better with Adrian Klemm’s unit.
But some of it can only be improved with time and experience. You have to see things to know how to counter them. Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. are going to get better week by week as they play more, figure things out on their own more, see more from their opponents. Kevin Dotson, too, who started four games as a rookie last year.
In the meantime, it is Canada’s job to figure out how to work around the shortcomings of his offensive line, designing and running plays that minimize where they’re weak and accentuate their strengths. That’s the job of the offensive coordinator: maximizing what talent you do have.