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Report: Steelers Give OC Matt Canada Bigger Role in Offense



Steelers OC Matt Canada
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada at OTAs, May 31, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Steelers will give Matt Canada more of a prominent role on the offensive staff, Jordan Schultz reported. Schultz says that Canada will now work daily and more hands-on with young quarterback Kenny Pickett, in addition to becoming the Steelers offensive coordinator. That means he is taking some of the responsibility that quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan carries off his shoulders.

Canada has been often criticized in Pittsburgh dating back to last season. So much so this year that Steelers fans even created a petition to have Canada fired. The Steelers’ offense averages 9.5 points per game through two games 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. In shotgun, the Steelers pass the ball 82 percent of the time. Under center, they run the ball nearly 90 percent of the time. The team runs the least amount of play-action in the NFL and is near the bottom in motion.

The stats paint an ugly picture, but Pickett is the other key piece struggling in this equation. Pickett has played below the line, to a steal Mike Tomlin phrase, over the first two games. When there are open plays, it feels like Pickett is missing them too often.

It’s odd to give Canada a more prominent role, but it could be viewed as many different things, including that the Steelers believe Canada can help turn Pickett and the offense around. The team found some success last week by working off their play-action attack.

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.