Most concerning takeaways from Steelers offense under Matt Canada

Matt Canada of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action during training camp at Heinz Field on July 29, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Matt Canada of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action during training camp at Heinz Field on July 29, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The passing game plan for the Pittsburgh Steelers might be the worst in the league under Matt Canada. Here’s why it’s so concerning entering Week 4. 

It’s always so easy to pin the blame on the offensive coordinator when things go wrong or a team doesn’t score enough points, but this time, I think Pittsburgh Steelers fans have a right to do so. Begrudgingly, I’ve watched each of the first three games multiple times as well as assessed the all-22 film. I have come to the conclusion that there is blame to pass around, but Matt Canada certainly deserves the bulk of it.

Though Pittsburgh was able to make some headway on the ground, Canada’s passing concepts are just abysmal. Here are the most concerning takeaways from the passing offense so far, based on my notes from the first three games:

First reads are designed to go to the boundaries

This is no secret at this point. Anyone with access to all-22 film can see that the first read is designed to go to the sidelines. Even the fans watching from the broadcast view are aware of this. Passing to the boundaries not only greatly limits other areas of the field being utilized, but it makes for some tight-window throws with little upside.

Avoiding the middle of the field is intentional

Going hand-in-hand with this, the middle of the field has been utilized less than any NFL team through the first three weeks. When plays are scripted to go to the sidelines, the middle of the field is completely ignored. This is no accident.

While Mitch Trubisky certainly has some missed opportunities when he could have hit wide-open receivers over the middle, it’s clear that the play typically isn’t designed to go there. Matt Canada is trying to protect his QB by limiting passes in traffic across the middle, but it’s handicapping this offense.

Steelers WRs don’t have room for yards after the catch

I recently wrote an article on why this might be the most concerning stat in the NFL this year. Because of the dismal passing game plan, a talented, young group of Steelers wide receivers have combined for just 25 total yards after the catch entering Week 4.

This is completely unacceptable, and their offense won’t see improvement until Canada is willing to get his receivers in space and allow them to work after the catch. Sadly, this is very hard to do when most passes are meant to lead the receiver out of bounds after catching the ball — as we have seen far too often early this year.

Steelers would rather go deep on third down than across the middle

The answer Matt Canada has on third and manageable is just as bad as the rest of his passing game plan. Instead of trying to move the chain with a slant or drag or coming up with some sort of rub route to get receivers open, his answer is to air the ball down the sidelines on a ‘go’ or ‘wheel’ route. I don’t mind dialing up something like this on second and short, but YOLO balls on third down will never add any sort of consistency to this offense.

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