Steelers News

Matt Canada Sees Youth On Offense As A Positive: ‘There’s A Hungry Group That Wants To Get Better’

The Pittsburgh Steelers return just one starter on offense from their 2019 team entering this next season. Everybody else is now gone, including a slew of retirements—about half of that group. The one starter from that season returning is wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who was a rookie that season, now going into year four.

And he’s one of their ‘older’ players on offense. By the start of the regular season, it’s entirely possible that this offense will feature just four players who have more than two years of playing experience take the first snap—those being Johnson, and three linemen: Chukwuma Okorafor and free agents James Daniels and Mason Cole. And maybe Cole won’t even start.

It’s been noted that we’re somewhat young in a lot of areas, but I think that’s a positive as well”, offensive coordinator Matt Canada told Steelers Live last week. “There’s a really hungry group that wants to get better, that wants to come together as an offense, and even more so as a football team”.

Pittsburgh, of course, started four rookies last season, at least three of whom project as starters in 2022. Running back Najee Harris made the Pro Bowl last year, while tight end Pat Freiermuth had an admirable debut. Dan Moore Jr. is slated to return at left tackle. The question is with Kendrick Green and whether or not he can earn a starting job at guard or center.

Even if doesn’t earn a starting job, the other likely starter is Kevin Dotson, who is going into his third year, as is Chase Claypool at wide receiver. Then you have rookie second-round pick George Pickens as the likely number three wide receiver, and the elephant in the room is whether or not first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett wins the starting job by opening day.

That would give the team up to seven, or possibly even eight, starting players on offense who are no more than halfway through their rookie contract, most of them even less than that. The offensive line is the only position group projected to have multiple starters who are on second contracts.

So what does that mean that this is a young offense? Well, for one thing, it means that there’s only so much that we can say definitively about it. To top it off, most of the offensive coaching staff has been turned over between the past two offseasons, including a new offensive line coach this offseason (and last offseason as well, for that matter).

Frisman Jackson joined the staff at wide receivers coach this year. Mike Sullivan was hired last year as quarterbacks coach, in addition to Alfredo Roberts at tight ends coach. Even Canada is only in his third season with the team, and second as offensive coordinator. The longest-tenured member of the staff is running backs coach Eddie Faulkner, who was hired in 2019.

It’s all certainly new, but is it improved? There’s plenty of pedigree in that group, but how long will it take to put this all together as a cohesive unit?

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