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Film Study: Matt Canada’s Influence Might Get Steelers Back On Track

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The Steelers brought in Matt Canada to try and spice up the offense with Ben Roethlisberger’s grand return this season. In the first few weeks, that worked wonderfully. The Steelers had a balanced offense that was to be feared. They scored over 30 points per game and defenses seemingly had no answer to stop the Steelers offense. Pittsburgh looked like bonafide Super Bowl contenders as they paced out to an 11-0 record.

However, cracks started to show. Canada’s concepts were thrown out as the season progressed. Eventually, the Steelers became a pure shotgun, and at times exclusively, empty team. Roethlisberger began to throw over 50 times a game as the offense stagnated on without a running game. While the Buffalo game was far from great offensively, there were some hints of good things. A lot of the good things were the reimplementation of Canada’s concepts. It hinted at some adjustments that the Steelers wanted to make offensively.

The Steelers under center play use almost exclusively Canada’s offensive concepts. This play action is a Canada concept that he ran at Maryland often. The Steelers have tweaked it to include a bunch set of receivers rather than tailoring it with some heavier personnel that Canada likes. It fits like a glove to work against the offensive tendencies the Steelers have been using as of late. Just look at how effective that play action is on the linebackers. Tremaine Edmunds gets sucked up by it and the Steelers get their longest play of the night thanks to JuJu Smith-Schuster breaking wide open. If the Steelers want to open up the middle of the field in a way they simply have not this year, implementing more of Canada’s play action and RPOs is a fantastic way to do that.

This motion has been gone for weeks now at this point. Its much welcomed return can help spring open the running game to an extent. It will not fix porous blocking or missed reads, but it lightens the box for the offense when they need it the most. Just check out what Claypool’s motion does on this play. It shifts the linebackers over and creates a strong left side on the line where the Steelers have the numbers advantage. With four blockers and only three defenders to worry about, the Steelers wash out the defenders and Benny Snell is able to get a quality gain.

This is something that has literally never been done this season. A pop pass to Chase Claypool in motion out of shotgun is a nice new wrinkle that is very much welcomed. When the Steelers begin to turn Claypool into a receiving weapon off of these runs, it becomes much more of a problem for defenses. They can now fake the pop pass and hit something out on the perimeter if they wish to do so. They can obviously run the ball off of this look with the threat of the pass there. Even still, they can create some cool route combinations with Claypool out of this that could really throw defenses for a loop. It makes a lot of sense that they would open up the entire scheme with these motions.

This is where it all comes together perfectly. The motion out of shotgun to fake the jet sweep and then the quick throw back on the screen pass. Look at the defensive back get sucked into the line of scrimmage and leave Diontae Johnson on an island as a result. The entire defense goes with the jet motion and it allows Johnson a lot of room to work after the catch. The Steelers get the numbers advantage out in space as Johnson goes for a first down. This is just a glimpse at what is possible with the motion back in the offense.

Canada’s concepts are being implemented once again, but in a more methodical, expanded way. The Steelers are trying to make their simple scheme unpredictable. Canada’s concepts are the catalyst at throwing teams off and creating open plays for the Steelers down the stretch. The question will be if this adjustment to defenses is successful. It remains to be seen, but if it is, the Steelers offense could be right back on track and humming as well as ever in the coming weeks.

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