PITTSBURGH — It may seem like common sense that the ability for a quarterback to feel comfortable within an offense and thus comfortably run the offense they are asked to run is paramount to the game of football. While talent can overcome a lot of things, it is hard for it to reach its full potential when being held back by extraneous circumstances. Thus, when some coaches become hard-headed and make their quarterback do things they are uncomfortable with consistently in a game setting, it can lead to a strained marriage.
However, Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada is trying his best to make his quarterbacks feel at home in his offense. Instead of being hard-headed when it comes to his scheme, Canada looks at it as a duty to not will his quarterbacks to be something they are not. They will work on the weaknesses in practice and cater to their strengths and likings in-game. It is all in an effort to try and make the games a little bit easier, while practices may seem more strenuous.
“We’re working a game plan to what we think will work against defenses,” Canada said. “Sometimes, we’re seeing this, but there’s a fun part where we get into a game and they do something new, that’s always the case. You know, making them comfortable is our job. We put them in a position to make plays, make them comfortable, and do things they like.”
While Canada loves the collaborative process between himself and a quarterback, it is not like the quarterback rules the entire conversation. They will have input, but it is a synergy between Canada’s game plan and the quarterback’s know-how and ability.
“Certainly, it has to tie-in,” Canada said. “You know, you can’t run a route straight into Cover 3 just because he likes it when it’s better against Cover 2. And we have to work to make those, but all of our guys can make those plays.”
Canada specifically sets up his quarterbacks with specific plays that he likes in differing situations. Between himself, the quarterback, and quarterback coach Mike Sullivan go over a package of plays to the quarterback’s liking in differing situations.
“You know, Sully does a good job and quarterbacks will come to me about what they like,” Canada said. “We adjust it to that and what we think is going to happen. Everything is supposed to work when you follow it, but defenses make that a challenge. We have a plan going in and then adjust as you can while still keeping your guy comfortable.”
One of the beneficiaries of the comfort level that Canada brings is Dwayne Haskins. Haskins seems to be more at ease than ever before in Canada’s scheme, and more importantly, he believes his history with Canada through his college days has allowed the marriage to work.
“Well, I feel like everybody is different,” Haskins said. “And not to say I wasn’t comfortable before, but I feel like Coach Canada coached at Maryland, so he knows the type of player I am. I played against him in college and he recruited me in high school. I feel like he has a sense of what I do well and things I can improve on or get better at.”
The symbiotic relationship between the two is still there beyond history, though. Haskins sees what Canada does throughout the week, and is comfortable as a result.
“He knows what to call for me in the sense of what I like,” Haskins said. “I feel like we have great communication in that way. So, just being here with Coach Canada and the rest of the coaching staff, I feel they do a great job of helping the players. They work with you once you do what you gotta do and then want the best for you. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
While Canada and his quarterbacks seemingly have great communication, it remains to be seen if that can be turned into successful offensive possessions. However, if Saturday’s victory of the Lions is to be a sign of things to come, the processes they go through are a huge boon into what could be a solid offense.