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Steelers Offense Could Make Big Change



Steelers QB Kenny Pickett
Steelers QB Kenny Pickett fakes a handoff to RB Najee Harris against the Browns, Sept. 18, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — A change might just be coming to the Steelers offense. No, the Steelers can switch up some of their schematics as they head to Las Vegas on Sunday. One of the only concepts that seemed to work for Matt Canada, Kenny Pickett, and the Steelers were their play-action plays on Monday night. It busted open the touchdown for George Pickens, and the team found the open field in the middle.

On Thursday, Canada addressed if play action could be something they see more of in the future. He hinged it on the running game first but did note their play-action game worked despite not having a rushing attack. That could mean it is something that the Steelers implement more of in the coming weeks.

“I don’t think it’s a crutch but I think play action is something, you know as you get the run game going more and more, it becomes effective,” Canada said. “That’s something that becomes more and more of a real situation. So, that was a play that we had a chance to get off and run. Kenny read it out perfectly to get it to get from Pat to GP, GP made the run, so there’s some things there. I don’t think our protection was bad on some of those play actions and we took some shots. I mentioned the corners are pretty good. We’ll do everything we can to move the football and get us an offense that’s balanced and doing the things we want to do. We’ve got to get there. We need to get to that point.”

Pickett had some success off play action in college, notching an impressive 16-2 TD/INT ratio in his breakout senior season. Play action has long been considered training wheels for young quarterbacks looking to find their way in the league. When executed correctly, it can stress defenses, particularly at the second level, and increase efficiency through the air.

Canada is fitting that the team needs to reach a balanced point, but you don’t need to have the run game rolling for play action to work. The Steelers run so much out of similar looks that they can get away without a run game at points, and that is what Monday showed. Teams are fully keyed into the run game, and it appears that Canada called up some of those play-action plays to work off the run game, even if it is not working. Play action is not a cure-all, but it could help take some of the load off the Pickett and the Steelers offense in general.