The Pittsburgh Steelers’ second-half offense was in large part the reason for their loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. After going head-to-head with quarterback Joe Burrow and leading at the half by a score of 20-17, the Steelers’ offense stalled in the second half, punting on their first three drives and only scoring a field goal and a garbage time touchdown. After the game, Bengals’ linebacker Germaine Pratt cited the Steelers’ offense being repetitive as the cause for their second-half struggles, which garnered more than a few headlines. Steelers’ offensive coordinator Matt Canada was asked about Pratt’s comments.
“I think it’s good for you guys to be able to talk about it,” Canada said when asked about Pratt’s comments on Thursday according to audio on the team’s website. “Obviously, we know we’ve got good self-scout on that. I think Coach Tomlin addressed it so my answer wouldn’t continue the narrative you’re hunting. Obviously, there’s a backstory to that, but I’ll leave it there.”
Canada, who sounded less than pleased during this interview, has seen no shortage of criticism during his time with the Steelers. Pratt’s comments were indistinguishable from many Steeler fans, as repetitiveness in play-calling is among the biggest critiques of Canada.
As Canada mentioned, head coach Mike Tomlin indeed addressed Pratt’s comments, all but dismissing them during a Tuesday interview. As one reporter pointed out to Canada, his plays have built-in options, and cannot be predictable as a result.
“You’re putting me in the spotlight. I can’t answer that question,” Canada continued. “I appreciate your question. Obviously, it was brought to my attention. I’ve known Pratt since he was in high school. Again, as you guys do all your investigating, there’s sometimes more to stories. But it is what it is. We didn’t win the game.”
Canada stating that he has known Pratt since high school may speak to the backstory that he is eluding to. Canada was the offensive coordinator for NC State from 2013–2015 before being fired in 2016. This overlapped with Pratt’s 2014–2018 tenure. As such, he was on the recruiting team that scouted Pratt in high school.
The notion that Canada’s offense is simple and repetitive is not new. In 2017, he embraced simplicity in play calling during his time as the offensive coordinator for LSU. While it’s hard to pinpoint all of the Steelers’ offensive struggles to play calling, as execution is also an issue for this youthful group. That said, many are echoing the same narrative with Canada, and there is something to be said abou that.