The Pittsburgh Steelers were not able to pass the ball effectively in Week 1. Here’s why Matt Canada may be to blame for the lack of success.
I’m not someone who typically likes to pin the blame on a coach or coordinator when things go wrong. I try to objectively analyze the problem from every angle and perspective to see where it’s coming from. In Week 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers really struggled when it came to passing the football, but I’m not convinced that all of this falls on Mitch Trubisky.
Obviously, the Steelers starting quarterback deserves his share of the blame. When watching the all-22 film, there were a few missed opportunities down the field that could have resulted in big plays. As a result, Tribisky managed just 5.1 yards per attempt and 194 passing yards against the Bengals.
While these stats are hard to stomach, this is more of an offensive coordinator issue than many fans might realize. Examining the passing offense, the Steelers really lack quality route combinations and don’t have a solid game plan through the air. This is where Matt Canada comes into play.
George Pickens was used excessively on go routes and fades against the Bengals. This was probably why he was rarely targeted and Trubisky had trouble connecting with him when he was. What’s perhaps even more concerning is that Diontae Johnson was rarely used in the middle of the field, according to Next Gen Stats.
In Week 1 Trubisky recorded just 76 passing yards when throwing to wide receivers despite 22 targets. This is completely unacceptable, and it’s something that must improve quickly. But what steps should the Steelers take to open up the passing game?
Steelers must loosen the reigns on Trubisky
The only time the Steelers seemed to come up with a big passing play in Week 1, it was either a trick play or a free play because of a penalty (the big pass to Pat Freiermuth in overtime). This is hardly a way to build a successful offense. Though Trubisky did take some shots down the field, Matt Canada’s game plan is still far too scripted.
For starters, the Steelers need to start varying their route combinations. Because of where receivers were running their routes, Trubisky attempted just 3 passes in the middle of the field beyond 8 yards, via Next Gen Stats — completing one of them. The rest of his work came primarily underneath or to the sidelines. This isn’t a recipe for success.
Canada also needs to allow Mitch to stand in the pocket and sling the ball in true pass sets more often; not draw up where the ball should go. This might mean living with more sacks allowed or throwing the occasional interception. What’s the point of taking care of the football if you can only muster up 16 points on offense?
This isn’t to say that the Steelers should be careless, but to have a good offense that competes with the top quarterbacks in the AFC, Pittsburgh is going to need to loosen the reigns on Trubisky and allow him to see what he can do. A more successful passing game could also take defenders out of the box and help the rushing attack.
It does concern me that Matt Canada is a run-minded offensive coordinator. So far, I’m not a believer in his pass concepts and I don’t think the ceiling of this offense can be very high at all unless the Steelers offensive coordinator is willing to make some changes to his game plan.