Buy Or Sell: Matt Canada’s Offense Was Hindered By Big Ben’s Preferences, Limitations

With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?

These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).

Topic Statement: Matt Canada’s offense was hindered last season by accommodations to Ben Roethlisberger’s preferences and limitations.

Explanation: Hall of Fame quarterbacks who have spent 19 years on one team are not overly likely to be on board with learning a new offense. That was the case for the Steelers last year with Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Canada. It was openly talked about that Canada’s offense was a compromise between what he wanted to do and what Roethlisberger was willing and capable of doing.


Of course having a quarterback that doesn’t fit the core of your offensive system is going to hinder you. Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich were able to put Tom Brady into their offense rather than simply let him run everything the way he had in New England.

When there are certain strengths to your philosophy that you feel that you can’t do at a high level or that you’re not confident your quarterback is willing to commit to, then you’re hamstrung. The quarterback position was far from the only thing wrong with the Steelers’ offense last year, but it was a major contributing factor, and it prevented Canada from fully installing concepts that he relies on.


Any good coordinator tailors his offense to his talent. That’s what their offense is. It evolves as the personnel evolves. Last year, Roethlisberger was the quarterback, so the offense was tailored to him, just like it would be tailored to Mitch Trubisky or Mason Rudolph. Canada himself has talked about these things. Rudolph has talked about how Canada always had a plan laid out for him, with his input, on what the offense would look like if he were to start a game.

What really hindered Canada’s offense was just a lack of talent, particularly along the offensive line. And Canada isn’t without blame himself. This isn’t to say that he is some underrecognized offensive guru whose talents just haven’t been fully observed yet. He was learning on the job last year and it showed.

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