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‘Hated the Play Call’: Big Ben Rips Matt Canada’s 4th Down Call



Steelers OC Matt Canada
Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada participates in the Organized Team Activities (OTAs), Tuesday May 25, 2021 at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. (Caitlyn Epes / Pittsburgh Steelers)

The Steelers’ offense has blame from all sides: the offensive coordinator Matt Canada, Kenny Pickett, the offensive line, and more. However, sometimes the blame can cross into a multi-layered issue on individual plays. For example, on the failed fourth-and-1 play from Pittsburgh against the Texans on Sunday. While players were open and Pickett bailed on a pocket, the play call is questionable from the jump.

Ben Roethlisberger broke down the play on his Footbahlin podcast, and to say the least, Roethlisberger is not a fan of the play call. For Roethlisberger, three options would have worked in that situation, but none constituted a dropback pass out of shotgun like Pittsburgh ran.

“I hated the play call,” Roethlisberger said. “Probably 99.9 percent disagree with it. When they came out, when they called timeout, I figured it was QB sneak. You could run with Naj up the middle because he’s been running pretty hard. Or, if you really want to get creative with it, sell it like you’re going to run it because everyone knows you’re going to run it and go with a really hard play action and take a shot up over the top. We used do that on fourth down a lot. I hit AB times, Eli Rogers, I’ve hit almost every receiver. You have one guy go over top and one guy across. The Raiders did it last week, they hit Davante Adams for a touchdown…it has to be those three things. They came out in shotgun and I was like, “Maybe they’re going to draw offsides or shift”, but they snapped the ball. I saw they were running a choice route and I don’t believe it.”

Through four games, the Steelers are averaging 12.5 points per game. They’ve been under 300 yards of offense in 3 of 4 games this season. They’re the only team since 2021 that hasn’t recorded a 400-yard game. Every single other team has four. That play encapsulates the Steelers’ struggles so far under Canada’s tenure. Pickett holds the blame for bailing a clean pocket, too. From the top down, this team is not executing at the level they should be. That’s a coaching indictment as much as anything.

Roethlisberger is not wrong that the play call makes little sense, given how well Najee Harris had run the ball. Pittsburgh found some rhythm in the run game and then disappeared. At this point, the Steelers keep getting in their way from multiple angles. When that happens, results like those on Sunday occur.