There have been no shortage of issues with the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers offense, with the play of the offensive line, the quarterback, the receivers, the running back and the play calling all coming in to question after the unit produced 37 points over 13 quarters in the first three weeks of the season.
That has caused for calls for major changes from the fanbase, with some arguing for the ouster of offensive coordinator Matt Canada and many others calling for first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett to replace Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.
So far, head coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t seem particularly interested in either option. He said before the Steelers’ Week 3 loss to the Cleveland that he didn’t know if significant changes to his offense were necessary and he dismissed outright the idea of Pickett starting in the immediate aftermath of the game.
The rest of the locker room seems to be on board with at least one of those decisions, with teammates publicly backing Trubisky after the team’s 1-2 start.
“It’s still high confidence in him,” wide receiver Diontae Johnson said. “He’s still our quarterback and we’re going to continue to play for him. I can’t knock anything he’s doing.”
“My confidence in him has always been at the highest,” wide receiver Chase Claypool said. “He threw the ball down the field. He was putting the ball where it needed to be. I don’t remember a time when he made an inaccurate pass, so he’s doing his job.”
Those public statements echo private feelings expressed to Steelers Now about whether the team is as eager to see Pickett start as the fanbase is.
But the players’ faith in Canada seems much less sure. When asked what the offense needs to do better on Thursday, Johnson’s first answer involved play calling.
“Just call the right plays to put us in the right positions,” Johnson said. “Obviously, we didn’t do that, so we’ve got to go back to the drawing board. … The coaches, I’m not throwing them under the bus, but we can only do what they tell us to do. Make plays and that’s about it.”
When pressed on if he felt that he was put in chances to make plays. Johnson, who had two drops against the Browns, said that he was.
“Yes, I feel like we were (in the right positions),” he said. “It was just executing. Hopefully, we get that turned around coming this following week.”
But it’s clear from his public statement that he feels that the receivers haven’t been utilized properly, and it’s easy to see why. The Steelers have not had a 300-yard passing game under Canada and the three games this year have averaged less than 200 yards per game. Sources close to players have confirmed that frustration with Canada’s play calling.
The players being unhappy with the coordinator is probably not an issue for Tomlin. He said last Tuesday that he wants his players to have that competitive mentality and he wants guys that want the football.
Players can be upset with coaches and still perform well on the field. If the players had lost faith in Trubisky, that might be a bigger problem, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the case so far.