One of the biggest story lines for the 2022 season will be how good, or how bad the Steelers offense will be under Matt Canada. Canada took his share of abuse for this team’s anemic offense in 2021. Pittsburgh ranked 23rd in yards per game in 2021, and 21st in points. There were times last season where they looked even worse than those rankings suggest. There could be plenty of excuses made for Matt Canada , and how the offense performed last season. Those seem to be rectified however, making 2022 a sort of make or break season for the Steelers offensive coordinator. This unit must show a significant improvement, or a change might be in order. Let’s go over the obstacles Canada faced in 2021, and how they will not be a factor this upcoming season:
2021: A no-win situation
First and foremost we must mention that a Ben Roehtlisberger/Matt Canada pairing was doomed from the start. When you look at the gist of what we think a Matt Canada offense might look like, there may not have been a worse quarterback for that system. It is well known Roethlisberger despised play action, something that seems to be a key component of Canada’s offense. A byproduct of the play action game is roll outs, and quarterback mobility. Another strike in the marriage between these two. Ben Roethlisberger’s body had deteriorated to the point where he was a complete stand still quarterback. Canada undoubtedly had to severely curtail what he does as an offensive philosophy with Big Ben under center.
What made this even worse was perhaps the worst offensive line in the NFL last season. Cap constraints, and the desire to add playmakers on offense meant Kevin Colbert was left to patch together a ragtag line. The results were predictably disastrous. Pittsburgh was forced to play rookies at both left tackle, and center. While Dan Moore Jr. was serviceable at times, Kendrick Green was anything but that at center. Veteran Trai Turner was a shell of his former self, while Chuks Okorafor was just as average as ever in 2021. We pointed this problem out well before the season started, unfortunately we were right: Will the Steelers offensive line be their undoing in 2021?
Finally, injuries did Matt Canada’s offense no favors in 2021. He lost his best receiver in Ju Ju Smith-Schuster early on in the season. The already poor line suffered injuries as well. Perhaps their best player along the line in Kevin Dotson missed a good chunk of the season. So much went wrong for the Steelers offense in 2021, it’s hard to believe any coordinator could have been more successful under those circumstances.
2022: New players, no more excuses
The Pittsburgh Steelers spent the entire off-season revamping their offensive roster. They added two key free agents in Mason Cole, and James Daniels to bolster the beleaguered offensive line. For the first time in three years this line should not be a major concern going into the season. Dare we say it might even be a strength? That indeed might be the case depending on how much growth we see in Dan Moore Jr., and Kevin Dotson.
Pittsburgh next added what should be two impact playmakers via the draft. Both George Pickens, and to a lesser extant Calvin Austin III, should give this offense the type of help with big plays they sorely needed. Throw in veterans Diontae Johnson, Chase Clayppol, and Pat Freiermuth and this promises to be the best receiver group this team has had in some time.
Most importantly of all is the Pittsburgh Steelers now have not one, but two mobile quarterbacks as potential starters. Both Kenny Pickens, and Mitch Trubisky appear to be excellent fits in a Matt Canada offense. Unfortunately, both have serious questions as to whether or not they can be above average NFL quarterbacks at this point in their careers. Overall though, the fit is far better than what Ben Roethlisberger was last season.
The line is fixed, the weapons are improved, and the quarterback fit is better. There are no more excuses for Matt Canada for this season. We must see a more cohesive, and competent offense than the one we witnessed in 2021. It won’t take much to improve over 2021, but anything less and the Matt Canada era might be a short one in Pittsburgh.