When Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett revealed that he called the play that led to Benny Snell Jr.’s game-winning 2-yard touchdown run, it raised quite a few eyebrows regarding the rookie’s development overall within Pittsburgh, but also turned a side-eye towards second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
Was the Pickett play call a sign that he doesn’t trust in what Canada is calling on a down-by-down basis? Is there more disfunction offensively?
Contrary to popular belief, the Pickett play call and subsequent execution was a good sign for the Steelers and Canada, one that shows the offensive coordinator and rookie quarterback are on the same page and trust in each other, based on what they’re seeing high above the field and on the field.
Speaking with reporters Thursday during his weekly media session, Canada stated that he welcomes the input from Pickett daily and wants his rookie quarterback comfortable and confident in the play calls that come into his head set, making sure that they can be executed at the highest level, according to video via 93.7 The Fan’s Jeff Hatthorn on Twitter.
As expected, the relationship between the two, which sparked back when Canada was the offensive coordinator at Pitt recruiting Pickett out of New Jersey, is growing and progressing in the right direction.
“Our plan has always been that it’s a quarterback-driven offense, no matter who the quarterback is,” Canada stated to reporters Thursday, according to video via Hatthorn. “What he likes, that’s what you want to do. You look at that sequence down there when we scored: first play to [Derek] Watt, that’s the play-call Kenny wanted. We obviously talk about that before. Next play was a run or pass option.
“He could have handed it off, he could have thrown it. He threw it to Diontae, weren’t able to connect,” Canada added. “Then we talked and he either wanted to hand it off or keep it on the touchdown, so those are things we obviously talk about in those times and have those ready to go. We’re big believes in the quarterback having good confidence in the plays that are coming in. If it’s not a play that he’s not going to like, it’s going to be hard to execute.”
None of what Canada stated regarding the conversations with Pickett play to play should be surprising. It’s never been Canada’s “my way or the highway” with him in charge of the offense. Even dating back to Ben Roethlisberger’s time or even Mitch Trubisky’s time, there’s always been a give and take when it comes to the gameplan and how the offense wants to attack, based on what the quarterback likes and doesn’t like.
Typically, that’s what successful coaches do, adjusting their scheme and play calling to what their guys are confident in and want to run. It’s good to see there’s a trust there with Pickett and Canada, going both ways, which allowed the Steelers to be successful in the red zone based off of Pickett’s feel early in the fourth quarter.