There’s no doubt about it, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense has been an absolute train wreck to start the 2023 season. Through two games, the Steelers’ offense is averaging 9.5 points per game and a league-low 12 first downs. They’re the only team in the league that has failed to register a first down in the first quarter.
With the offensive struggles, prominent national talking heads Stephen A. Smith and Colin Cowherd have called for offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s job. Former Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley said on 93.7 The Fan that Canada is “simply not qualified” for the job. Warren Sharp of Sharp Football took it a step further with an analytic video breakdown on Thursday, and let’s just say, he absolutely exposed Canada with some of the numbers.
Sharp started off by listing some stats on the Steelers’ offense, all worst in the NFL — averaging 19.6 yards per drive, 8 offensive points per game 0.4 points per minute of possession. “To equate that to scoring a touchdown, they would need to have the ball for 18 and a half minutes just to score the equivalent of one touchdown and only 52 percent of their first downs lead to another first down.”
Sharp then dropped a jarring stat on just how predictable Canada’s offense is. According to Sharp, when the Steelers are under center, they run the ball 90 percent of the time. When they are in shotgun, they pass over 80 percent of the time. That is an alarming rate.
“This is a major way to tip your hand. You’re holding no cards up your sleeves as to what you’re doing. They’re just tipping their hand and they don’t care about what they’re doing,” Sharp said. “They were sort of like this last year, this is a little more extreme this year, but last year they weren’t good in this metric, either. This is a big problem. This has nothing to do with the defenses that they face. This is we’re lining up this way and this is the type of play that we’re calling — a pass or a run. And that is massively helpful for a defense.”
Sharp also explained that 60 percent of Kenny Pickett’s early down passes in the first three quarters this season are outside the numbers. That’s the fourth-highest rate in the NFL.
“Passing the ball outside the numbers, those are difficult passes to complete,” Sharp said. “The quarterbacks that Pickett is grouped with who are asked to throw the ball a lot outside the numbers and not as far down the field, we’re talking guys like Kenny Pickett, Justin Fields, Justin Herbert and Dak Prescott. All these guys completion percentages aren’t very high and their yards per attempt aren’t very high because they’re not pushing the ball down the field very far, and they’re trying to throw the ball really far to the perimeter.”
Another thing, the Steelers have the lowest rate of play-action in the league. They’re also not using enough motion. Sharp points out that the top-six quarterbacks in motion rate are Brock Purdy, Patrick Mahomes, Tua Tagovailoa, Matthew Stafford, Jordan Love and Desmond Ridder. All six quarterbacks have offensive-minded head coaches.
“These coaches are all calling plays that use the top of the league rate of motion. Why? They’re trying to give their quarterback answers to the test before the snap. They’re trying to help their quarterback out here. And Matt Canada is not doing that enough. Matt Canada is not trying to help his quarterback out,” Sharp said. “No play-action, not enough motion. We’re throwing way too many of our passes to the extreme perimeter of the football field that are harder to complete. These are shorter passes that don’t have as high of upside as a result. And then we’re super predictable on our play calls where if we’re in shotgun, we’re passing the ball over 80 percent of the time. And if we’re under center, we’re running the ball 90 percent of the time. No other team falls into that type of category. This is bad offense. It does not matter what defense you’re playing. This is not going to be very successful. This is on Matt Canada.”