Is Steelers OC Matt Canada already caving to please Ben Roethlisberger?

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Pittsburgh Steelers. Mandatory Credit: Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers via USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Pittsburgh Steelers. Mandatory Credit: Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers via USA TODAY Sports /

Matt Canada was hired to be an innovative offensive coordinator for the Steelers, but his recent comments leave us scratching our heads?

When Pittsburgh took all of the creativity out of their offense late in the 2020 season, the Steelers finished the final six games as one of the worst offenses in the league – averaging just 19.6 points per contest. Fans were determined that offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner had to go, and the team chose not to re-up his contract this offseason.

In his stead, innovative young quarterback coach, Matt Canada was promoted as the new offensive coordinator, and fans have very high hopes for what he could bring to the table. Early in the 2020 season, we saw Canada’s fingerprints on the offense with more jet sweeps and pre-snap motion. Unfortunately, late in the year, the Steelers did away with this.

In 2021, I was looking forward to an offense that screams ‘Matt Canada’, with a blend of play-action and pre-snap motion routinely mixed in to keep the defense on its heels. Sadly, we may not be getting as much of his as we would have hoped.

In a recent press conference, the Steelers new offensive coordinator spoke to the media, voicing that “We are going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it.”

While this statement from Matt Canada could just be an attempt to please his two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t have me at least a little bit concerned.

Why Canada’s statement should concern Steelers fans

While some inside Pittsburgh media have expressed they are not concerned about Canada’s recent statements, I think there is reason to be a little bit worried about how things could go in 2021. Ben Roethlisberger has always been a little headstrong.

After going 13-3 and being the 5th-highest-scoring team with Todd Haley calling the offense in 2017, the Steelers fired Haley following the 2017 season and promoted Randy Fichtner. Though Ben got along better with Fichtner, his offense lacked creativity and he had an unhealthy pass-to-run ratio.

Now Matt Canada has a chance to be just the right blend of both authoritative and quarterback-friendly. However, his recent comments may suggest that he is leaning closer to the side of simply pleasing the 39-year-old quarterback.

Obviously, we hope that this doesn’t mean that Canada’s creativity won’t be present early and often in the offense. We want to see far more play-action, pre-snap motion, and jet sweep plays than we saw last year. Much of this will require Ben Roethlisberger to be under center.

After Ben was vocal to the media in 2020 about not being a fan of play-action, pre-snap motion, or anything that requires him to turn his back to the defense, the creativity in the offense went away entirely, and Pittsburgh was extremely predictable in the second half of the season.

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As the offensive coordinator, it’s Matt Canada’s job to call a creative, successful offense and please his quarterback. Let’s hope he’s not already starting to cave to Ben Roethlisberger’s demands.