The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.
They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom are starting.
There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Will RPOs continue to be prevalent in Matt Canada’s offense?
The Steelers were able to use the RPO effectively this past Sunday in their win against the Denver Broncos; offensive coordinator Matt Canada seemed to suggest that it is something that the offense has had to learn to execute. Given that they were able to execute it, should we anticipate seeing more of it?
Use of the run-pass option in the Steelers’ offense is hardly unprecedented, of course, though admittedly, Ben Roethlisberger has in the past typically taken the pass option when available. If Sunday’s game was any indication, it suggests that they will be more inclined to take the running option when the defensive look warrants it.
The offensive line doesn’t know whether the play will be a run or a pass, so they default to blocking for the run in an RPO, typically, though recent rule changes about how far down the field an ineligible player may be do make it somewhat trickier, but manageable.
At this point, anything that works should be exploited, because the Steelers haven’t had very many things work particularly well on offense this year so far. Truth be told, even the RPOs weren’t working earlier on in the season, and there is still a good deal of room for improvement. But getting better at it takes repping it.