The Steelers offense is looking for a change. That’s why they fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada in hopes that they could spark the offense in a new way. New offensive coordinators Eddie Faulkner and Mike Sullivan will tell you that not much can change; in fact, Faulkner said as much. It’s too late in the season to make such a drastic change, but it could be enough time to make tweaks that impact how their season will play out. Don’t expect any crazy changes.
“No, I mean, you can’t,” Faulkner said. “We are in the middle of the season. You got to roll with what we been doing, putting game plans together, what our guys can execute, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
But they can allow quarterback Kenny Pickett to be put into a solid situation. He does not expect any changes, but wrinkles that allow the existing scheme to pop more than it is right now could be the solution.
“You can’t have wholesale changes at this point,” Pickett said. “We’re going to run the system that we’ve been using. Coach Sully and Coach Faulk, they’re going to put their wrinkle on what they want to run and when they want to run it.”
But one thing that could change? Pittsburgh’s overreliance on routes outside of the numbers. The Steelers throw outside the numbers a stunning 66% of the time, the most in the NFL, according to The Ringer. That’s partially on how the Canada offense is designed to work, but more than that, it is the plays they draw up to make it work. Pittsburgh does not run a ton of route concepts to the middle of the field, but it feels like when they do, something is off from an execution standpoint, too.
They can enhance the use of motion into meaningful building blocks and use play action to attack areas of the field that can allow for explosive plays. Pittsburgh faces some lowly pass defenses on the schedule that could allow these wrinkles to pop.
The Steelers don’t use play action much, but its benefit is almost a net zero when they do. Meanwhile, they use motion at the snap at a league-average rate, but its benefit is virtually a net zero when used. Why? The fancy buzzwords like ‘motion’ and ‘play action’ are staples that every team in the league uses to some degree. But Pittsburgh’s usage of both is without purpose on plays. Instead, it is either short throws to the flat that will result in a modest catch and run but not an explosive play or something that takes away from the play.
So, these things need to change for Pittsburgh to pop offensively in a new way. But Pickett has to do his part on Sunday, too. If he can do that, and be an average quarterback, the Steelers should likely be fine.