Steelers are going to ruin Matt Canada if Ben Roethlisberger returns

Interim head coach Matt Canada of the Maryland Terrapins. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Interim head coach Matt Canada of the Maryland Terrapins. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Matt Canada was brought in to be an innovative offensive mind for the Steelers, but here’s why he and  Ben Roethlisberger aren’t going to mesh. 

When the Steelers officially made Matt Canada their new offensive coordinator, I was excited. I’ve followed his work closely from his days in Maryland, LSU, and Pittsburgh and saw the success he brought to those offenses. However, in the back of my mind, I still had to wonder if Pittsburgh hired Matt Canada for the right reasons.

Canada loves to mix play-action and pre-snap motion into his offense as much as anyone. He knows how to confuse a defense and get them flowing one way while the play goes another. However, as I’m sure you are well aware, Ben Roethlisberger has been vocal about dislikes all of those things. He doesn’t like play-action, pre-snap motion, or even getting under center for that matter.

Even though Canada was only the quarterback coach in 2020, we could see his blueprint on the offense early in the season. Though the first half of the season, Pittsburgh’s offense was able to put up some big numbers as Chase Claypool and Ray-Ray McCloud were often used in motion before the snap – even taking some ‘end-arounds’ for some massive gains. But as the season went on, we saw less and less of this, and it’s no surprise why the offense struggled so much last year.

Why Steelers will fail Canada if Ben returns

According to recent statements by NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala, there is division in the Steelers organization about what to do with Ben Roethlisberger and much of this has to do with his unwillingness to conform to Canada’s offensive plans. Here’s what Kinkhabwala said on Monday:

"“But here’s the thing, the Steelers are not in consensus on what to do. From what I’ve been told, there is a very, very strong feeling in that building that it is time to simply move forward. While the Steelers still have Ben Roethlisberger, there is a bit of a limbo. Because even though there is a new offensive coordinator and a new quarterbacks coach, Ben Roethlisberger likes to play a particular way and that does not necessarily mesh with all the shifts and the motions that that new offensive coordinator Matt Canada would like to incorporate.”"

If Ben’s dismal play late in the season wasn’t enough motivation for the Steelers to move on from the aging quarterback, perhaps this will. The fact that there is not a consensus on what to do is a bit concerning to me. Does the coaching staff want to move on, but the Rooney’s want to give Roethlisberger another shot?

Though Pittsburgh didn’t have a problem shooing some older star players out the door in the past, they have been loyal to a fault when it comes to others. I remember being one of the only writers talking about how dangerous it was to give Antonio Brown his final extension, but the Steelers apparently were not phased by his drastic drop in efficiency and a laundry list of off-the-field issues. They also lucked out that Le’Veon Bell turned down a massive contract extension that would have kept him around for another five years.

I was also against giving Ben Roethlisberger his last $91 million extension. The Steelers paid terrific money for past production – knowing that Ben was no longer going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

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Matt Canada has a lot to offer this team, but I am really concerned that he will fail if Ben Roethlisberger returns to Pittsburgh in 2021. With so many changes already this offseason between the coaching staff and retirements, Ben should add his name to that list.