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Steelers Analysis

Matt Canada’s Offense Starting to Take Shape



One of the biggest topics this offseason for the Steelers was fixing the running game. During the pre-draft process, Mike Tomlin noted multiple times that the improvements to the running game go beyond just personnel. Matt Canada’s new offensive system was to be the focal point of the strides forward.

Throughout the first two days of Rookie Minicamp, there have been some indications on just how Canada’s offense will truly look.

“It’s complex, but it’s simple in the same way,” Pat Freiermuth said Friday. “Coach Canada puts guys on the field where they can create mismatches. I think he does a great job of figuring out what the defense’s weaknesses are.”
Freiermuth believes that his fit in the Steelers offense is great. However, on top of what Freiermuth believes are overwhelming positives, he did answer to the elephant in the room of pre-snap motion.
“There’s a decent amount of pre-snap motion, just from the first install we did,” Freiermuth said.
While lots of pre-snap motion was expected, first-round pick Najee Harris gave some more insight into Canada’s potential plans offensively on Saturday. On a day that saw Harris nab a one-handed catch over his right shoulder, he talked about his potential role in the passing game.
“They’re gonna line me up out wide,” Harris said. “Just utilize the running back in the passing game, out wide, slot, out at the X-position.”
The Steelers sorely lacked dynamic ability out of the backfield on the receiving end last season. Harris believes that he can take the receiving production at the running back position to the next level for Pittsburgh. When asked about his one-handed catch, Harris was nonchalant and confident.
“I always do that,” Harris said. “It’s not something I work on. It’s something I’ve been doing since middle school.”
In terms of the aforementioned running scheme, Harris went into detail that the Steve Sarkisian offense at Alabama carries lots of similarities to what Matt Canada is looking to run.
“The schemes of the runs (are similar),” Harris said. “The inside zones, the outside zones, the power plays, the one-back power, the duo plays, so a lot of what they are doing in their offense resembles a lot of what we did (at Alabama.”
Harris mentioned those specific schemes, which are a mix of gap and zone runs. While the draft picks signal that the Steelers want to become more of a zone team, it may be a slower transition. Thus, it should be no surprise to see some gap concepts such as power and duo pop up this season in the Matt Canada offense.
The Steelers are certainly hoping that Harris and Canada can be two key ingredients to revitalizing an offense that was the worst rushing team in the league in 2020. And early indications are that it the team will be going to overhaul their schematics to a large degree to achieve that result.