The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense needs to perform –– and soon.
Through two weeks, the team ranks 30th in yards per game with 255.0, 21st in points per game with 18.5, and is firmly in the bottom half of the league in both the passing and rushing categories.
Put plainly: The Steelers offense stinks on all levels.
Is offensive coordinator Matt Canada to blame?
Is it new starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky?
Speaking on the Footbahlin’ with Ben Roethlisberger podcast, former Steeler and current NFL analyst Merril Hoge broke down his thoughts.
“It’s probably the only running game that I’ve ever been a little confused on,” Hoge said of Canada’s system. “I don’t think that, when you look at how he [Canada] designs the run, I don’t know that he threatens the box. Actually, I think he adds more people to the box and he puts more people in bad spots in the running game. Some of his motions, they bring people in and they don’t affect –– the jet stuff isn’t affecting anybody…
“So now you got more people in there than you even wanted. Schematically, there’s some stuff that doesn’t make sense with it.”
To be fair, Hoge doesn’t exactly believe in Trubisky’s abilities either, so he probably feels the Steelers’ offensive woes represent a combination of ineptitude. That said, he can’t deny the fact that Canada’s offense just ain’t it thus far in 2022.
“Something I’ve believed in this league: There’s two things I think you have to do offensively if you’re going to have a shot to be a champion,” Hoge continued. “You’re going to have to control the tempo of the game. The best way to do that is to run the football. So you’re going to have to have a good running game… And then you have to be explosive.”
On that front, Roethlisberger chimed in and shared his thoughts.
“I haven’t seen that [the explosiveness] yet,” Roethlisberger said. “I mean, Diontae [Johnson] made an explosive play. That catch was one of the greatest catches I’ve seen, maybe ever. I kept saying that today when we were watching the game [against the Patriots], I kept saying, ‘Someone go down the field. Take some shots down the field.’
“Now whether that’s playcalling, whether that’s Mitchell not throwing it if it was called, I don’t know. I just kept sitting there like, ‘Come on … Every once in a while take one shot.'”
Making matters worse in the eyes of both Roethlisberger and Hoge is the fact that the Steelers’ roster boasts the firepower to make plays. Johnson is a top-tier NFL wide receiver. Chase Claypool, George Pickens, and Pat Freiermuth all bring elite size, speed, and skill to the table.
“[There are] explosive players on that team on offense,” Roethlisberger said.
“That group? I mean, their size and their speed from tight end to three wides, I mean, jeez. Dangerous. Vertically dangerous,” Hoge replied.
And while Roethlisberger specifically noted that he was not blaming Canada entirely, it was easy to sense some of his skepticism regarding the Steelers’ playcalling. Against the Patriots, Trubisky and the Steelers offense were booed by the 67,000+ strong crowd at Acrisure Stadium.
Roethlisberger didn’t like that.
“I don’t think that he [Trubisky] deserved the fans getting on him today because sometimes you’re playing within the system,” Roethlisberger said. “And I’m not trying to say it’s on Matt Canada either, but sometimes if he’s looking down the field and no one’s there, he’s taking the checkdown. If you call a wide receiver screen, you’re throwing the wide receiver screen. If it goes for minus-two yards, that’s not on the quarterback. That’s not his fault that the screen goes for minus-two yards.”
Roethlisberger and Hoge see the potential with this Steelers team.
But will Canada unlock it in 2022? We take the next step on that journey as the team strolls into Cleveland for a Thursday Night Football showdown against the Browns.
Watch Part 1 of Hoge’s conversation with Roethlisberger here: