The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense cleared a couple of hurdles on Sunday. For one, they scored more than 20 points for the first time this season. For another, they managed to score a touchdown from more than eight yards out. In fact, they recorded multiple touchdowns of double-digit yardage, including an explosive play.
That does not mean that all is well, however; far from it. For a start, that’s just one game out of 10, and we need to at least establish a pattern before we can suggest that any corner has been turned. This is too often a unit that just gets in its own way—which offensive coordinator Matt Canada indicated is one of the reasons that his offense is as limited from a schematic standpoint as it has been.
“Obviously you can’t do more if you’re having missed assignments”, he told reporters yesterday via the team’s website when he was asked about their struggles in execution and how that affects the size of their repertoire. “We have to minimize missed assignments, minimize those things and try to execute at a higher level”.
Execution ultimately comes down to coaching, at least to a large degree, so this can’t be construed as shirking responsibility. Even still, one would struggle to find a less diverse offense than the one Pittsburgh has run for most of the year, even considering their many errors of execution.
Having a rookie at quarterback is unquestionably a piece of the puzzle as well, particularly for one who was not in the lineup at the start of the season and functioning with the ones throughout the offseason. While the offensive coordinator is the same as last year, however, the shift from Ben Roethlisberger under center has meant a lot of new parts as well.
Still, Canada sees talent, both in the locker room and on the coaching staff—and in the playbook as well. It’s obvious that they have a repertoire more expansive than they actually end up showing in-game. The question is if they’ll ever be able to get to most of it. Based on how they pulled off that flea-flicker, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
“We’ve got a lot of good ideas, a lot of good plays”, Canada said. “We’ve got really good players. At times we’re executing well, at times we’re not. Some of that is…you know. But it doesn’t matter whose mistake it is. Until it’s all clean it doesn’t work”.
That’s just the reality of the situation. It doesn’t absolve the offensive coordinator of anything, but obviously what you’re willing to run is going to be limited by how comfortable you are with your offense’s ability to run it, and this offense hasn’t inspired a lot of confidence overall.