The Steelers offense has picked up right where it left off in 2021, and that’s not a good thing. This team continues to have difficulty running the football. Najee Harris does not have one hundred yards combined this season. The passing game is not much better. Mitch Trubisky is yet to throw for over 200 yards in a game, and looks hesitant. After averaging less than 15 points per game, Matt Canada now finds himself on the hot seat as well. Let’s go over who the main contributors are to this underperforming Steelers offense:
We are starting to see some of the criticisms that followed Mitch Trubisky from his days in Chicago. He locks on to his first read, and rarely makes it through more than one progression. This is problematic with all the weapons the Steelers have to choose from. There seem to be several players open on routes that don’t happen to be the primary read.
When that initial read is not open, two things happen. Either Trubisky chooses the dump off option to his running back, or he takes a bad sack. This was clearly evident in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots. In that instance, no offensive player touched the football except for Najee Harris. In fact, of the final two drives Trubisky only attempted one pass to a player other than Harris. That attempt fell incomplete to George Pickens.
This simply isn’t good enough at the NFL level. Particularly when the pass protection has been far better than we anticipated this season. The Steelers offensive line has protected fairly well, making it even more curious why Trubisky has not been ineffective so far. We said before the season that Kenny Pickett was a better fit for the Matt Canada offense, we never imagined it would be this bad however. The Steelers starting quarterback should be Kenny Pickett
Matt Canada has taken his fair share of criticism following the game on Sunday. Fans, players, and even the front office is rumored to be unhappy with his offensive play calling and scheme. All the things we criticized Ben Roethlisberger for last season have continued into 2022. There are no passes in the middle of the field, very little play action or roll outs, and a very predictable offense overall. At the time we thought this was due to the limitations of a 39 year old quarterback. Now we are learning that these seem to be key components of the Matt Canada offense.
What Canada has shown us so far is simply not good enough to be an NFL caliber offense. There are no more excuses of an immobile quarterback, or a veteran quarterback refusing to run the offense correctly. There is a very real possibility that Matt Canada is in over his head. The same struggles in the run game, and the passing game are still there despite the greatly improved personnel.
At the end of the day, the head coach is ultimately responsible for play of the team. Mike Tomlin hired Matt Canada. He promoted him last season, and had a full year to watch the offense in action. It was also Tomlin’s decision to bring Canada back despite his clear shortcomings. Therefore the problems facing the Steelers offense rest squarely with the head coach. A head coach who has struggled to pick good coordinators his entire tenure in Pittsburgh.
None of the coordinators Tomlin has hired have done him any favors in the ultimate goal of winning another Super Bowl. He has zero coaches in his coaching tree that have had any success (accept Bruce Arians) despite being the second longest tenured coach in the league. Check out our episode 26 of the Steelers Sanctuary Podcast for a long discussion on this topic: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1981237/11356365
As with most things that go wrong for an NFL team, there’s no clear cut answer to who’s at fault. There is certainly blame that can be placed on the players, coordinator, and the head coach as well. It’s too early to come up with concrete judgments for who’s primarily to blame. Unfortunately for Mitch Trubisky the easiest solution is to change quarterbacks. This is something we could see as early as next week if the offense struggles again Thursday night. With ten days between games this would be an ideal time to make a change.
The danger for Canada is if indeed Kenny Pickett is put in, and the offense does not improve, he would be next on the chopping block. That is a scenario that would not play out until after the season. Taking this to the next logical step is to take a hard look at Mike Tomlin’s hires at coordinators, especially offensively.
The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has been largely ineffective for several years now. The team spent lots of assets on that side of the ball to change that, but so far it has not worked. It seems we are headed for still more changes before this thing gets fixed. Maybe then we can better pinpoint who is at fault for this struggling Steelers offense.