Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada talked to reporters today and said the team knows that going more up-tempo can be effective, and it’s something the team may look to do more of as they get more comfortable.
“I think it’s been effective and obviously we could use it more in the game plan,” Canada said via an official transcript provided by the team. things. Obviously, we didn’t get done what we wanted to get done last week, but you knew their plan was to kind of limit your possessions and do those things. So, you kind of try to go in with a plan of what you’re going to do.”
Canada also talked about two specific times on Sunday when the team tried to pick up the pace.
“Obviously, we got down at that point late in the third, or whenever that was, when we’re down the field and it helped us. It’s helped us other times, it helped us into the half. We just missed a couple plays there. So, it’s something that, again, as we continue to grow and build, we can do more of or less of, it just depends on the game and kind of where we’re at.”
Pittsburgh was more up-tempo on Sunday in their lone scoring drive that Canada talked about late in the third quarter and into the first play of the fourth quarter, and that was really the only drive where the offense looked to be in sync. When the tempo wasn’t there, the offense was stagnant. Obviously, the momentum of a few positive plays to start the drive (a 14-yard reception by Najee Harris and an 18-yard run by Gunner Olszewski within the first few plays) helped build confidence that the offense could move the ball on that particular drive.
The drive at the end of the half involved Pittsburgh throwing the ball downfield, as they had just 22 seconds to work with. It wasn’t a no-huddle or up-tempo drive as much as it was just Pittsburgh trying to push. Obviously, in a two-minute drill, teams are traditionally going more up-tempo and no-huddle, but in this case, Pittsburgh was just trying to save clock to try and get in scoring range. Canada touched more on that drive later in his press conference.
“At the end of the half, we had a couple shots. All those could be for three or seven, definitely seven instead of three, maybe three there. So, we have opportunities, we’ve got to make plays, we have to call plays, it’s all of us,” Canada said.
On that drive, Mitch Trubisky took a sack that killed pretty much any hope of the Steelers scoring. As Tyler Wise pointed out, he also missed a wide-open Pat Freiermuth on the play. In that case, the play call had Freiermuth open a few yards down the field toward the sideline with room to run, but Trubisky just didn’t hit him. That’s not to absolve the play-calling, but in that case, it seems as if Trubisky missed an opportunity to potentially put three points on the board in a game Pittsburgh lost by three.
Maybe Pittsburgh can build more positive momentum and pick their tempo with more shots downfield. They did it with successful run plays on their scoring drive, but they have to show they can pass the ball better. They don’t have to be home run attempts, but consistent 12-15 yard gains at a minimum could help build momentum and help Pittsburgh’s tempo on offense.
Between the playcalling and the play on the field, it just has to get better. Going to more up-tempo and no-huddle may not be the answer, but it at least gives the defense a look other than the boring offense Pittsburgh has rolled out the last two weeks. We’ll see what Pittsburgh’s offense looks like on Thursday night in Cleveland. If it’s more of what we saw Sunday, then the week-plus after the game is going to be a long one for Canada and Trubisky.