The Pittsburgh Steelers severe lack of yards after the catch to wide receivers shows just how poor Matt Canada’s passing game plan is this year.
There are a lot of concerning stats when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers offense early in the 2022 season. Mike Tomlin’s team is 19th in points per game, 31st in offensive yards per game, and 30th in yards per play, via Team Rankings. However, there is one stat that shows how truly abysmal this offensive game plan has been during the first three weeks of the 2022 season.
Yards after the catch (or YAC, as it’s abbreviated) are crucial to the success of an offense. Good receivers can win both before and after the catch, but if they are not aided by opportunities to make plays, this can cripple an NFL offense. Sadly, Steelers wide receivers are dead last in the NFL in this category.
Through the first three games of the 2022 season, Pittsburgh’s receivers have combined for just 25 yards after the catch, according to advanced stats from Pro Football Reference — a mere 8.3 per game. Diontae Johnson has just 8 of them.
To give a little perspective of just how bad this truly is, two Dolphins wide receivers — Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle — have combined for a whopping 236 yards after the catch so far through three games. That’s 78.6 per game just from two receivers. Now, this is obviously on the opposite side of the spectrum with two very talented players, but it shows how poor this number really is for the Steelers.
During his first three seasons in the NFL, Johnson has proven to be a quality player after the catch and one of the slipperiest receivers in the league. So why on earth are his yards after the catch so low through three games? This stems from the game plan and starts with the offensive coordinator.
Steelers YAC is lacking because of Matt Canada
We can play the game where we sit around and point fingers, but I think this one is pretty obvious. While Mitch Trubisky has a hand in this as well with some missed opportunities in his first three games, this is a Matt Canada problem.
More specifically, this is a passing game plan problem. Canada’s route combinations are poor with most of the quarterback’s first reads designed to go to the sidelines. When you lead a wide receiver to the sticks, it’s very hard for them to do much after the catch. This has become a major issue early in the season, and it’s part of the reason why the Steelers are lacking sustained drives or explosive plays.
Canada does this in an effort to protect his quarterback. He doesn’t want Trubisky to have to take unnecessary shots over the middle of the field where mistakes can be made and the traffic can be more congested. However, by not doing so, it greatly limits the upside of the offense.
The Steelers have abysmal numbers across the board on offense, but none are more concerning to me than the sheer lack of plays designed to create yards after the catch. The Steelers have some athletic receivers who can be good in space, but this passing game plan needs to change immediately.