New Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada was criticized Tuesday for being too publicly deferential towards Ben Roethlisberger.
But the numbers indicate the transition could be greater than Canada is letting on. The longtime offensive coordinator seldom sets up his offense in the shotgun and relies on pre-snap motion.
In other words, that’s the antithesis of how ex-offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and Roethlisberger ran Pittsburgh’s offense last season.
Pro Football Focus published the numbers: In 2020, the Steelers played in shotgun at the fourth-highest rate in the NFL. Meanwhile, Canada’s last college offense, the 2018 Maryland Terrapins, played shotgun at the 117th-ranked rate in the country.
Though Canada said the Steelers are “gonna do what Ben wants to do,” he also acknowledged there are “changes in terminology.” Earlier this month, Roethlisberger admitted it’s been difficult making some adjustments.
“It’s definitely harder when all of a sudden something looks the exact same but it’s called something completely different," Roethlisberger told reporters June 1.
The comments about changing terminology indicates some sort of playbook overhaul. To take the comparison further, the 2018 Terrapins used pre-snap motion at the second-highest rate in college football.
The Steelers employed it at the 23rd-highest rate in the league, but then again, they also had the worst rushing attack in the league.
Najee Harris should make their offense more dynamic. The Steelers didn’t draft him in the first round so he would be a bystander.
Overall, it’s likely there will be compromise between Roethlisberger and Canada. With a gap that large, there’s plenty of room to find some middle ground.