The Pittsburgh Steelers have a one to two year plan. They have fully committed to making that plan come to pass this season. The Steelers went from being a league leading offense, especially in the red zone, to near the bottom in one season, and all the blame can't be placed solely on Big Ben Roethlisberger's season ending injury.
The loss of talent was obvious. After losing a transitional talent at WR prior to the season, many established starters at skill positions started dealing with nagging injuries in Ben's abscence, resulting in an overwhelmed offensive line wearing down under the pressure to carry a talent deficient offense. While the subpar QB play happens to be the most obvious culprit, it was definitely not the only one. This was all to evident to the Steelers decision makers, and they have taken calculated steps to correct the problem.
After further review, these decision makers devised a plan of attack. They were dealing with some severe time constraints. The career of future HOF QB Ben Roethlisberger is coming to an end, and the finish line is coming into view. The Steelers appear comfortable in Ben's recovery progress thus far, crucial for them to confidently implement the aforementioned plan moving forward. They devised the plan believing their franchise QB will be able to return to the field and pick up where he left off, only with a new and improved throwing arm.
That being said, the question remained. What were the greatest areas of need on offense; and how could they best be addressed within the Steelers time constraints, limited draft capital, and minimal cap space? A notable shift to modern NFL trending offensive designs was required.
The modern game is all about creating favorable mismatches all over the field, more so than ever before. Look no further than the Baltimore Ravens offense for evidence of the success of forward thinking. John Harbaugh was being discussed as a potential coaching causality not so long ago, then he went all in gambling on uniquely talented Lamar Jackson and the unconventional offense he could provide. He had nothing to lose at that point, and he ended up hitting the jackpot. The Ravens offense is unique for the NFL, with many multifaceted formations, constantly creating matchup problems for defenses.
The Kansas City Chiefs offense does the same thing, although in a different way. Speed kills, especially if you know how to use it, and Andy Reid can do just that. What a difference one Super Bowl title can make for a coach. HC Andy Reid was the best coach of his era who just couldn't get the job done when it counted most. Undoubtedly the QB Whisperer: he molded Donovan McNabb into a MVP, and made ultra conservative Alex Smith a productive starting QB, now he has nurtured the supremely talented Patrick Mahomes to an MVP trophy of his very own. Finally the underrated offensive mastermind Reid has achieved the Holy Grail, the Lombardi Trophy. He has to feel a tremendous sense of relief, and this should only unlock the capabilities of his offensively gifted creative mind. NFL defensive coordinators beware.
Enter Matt Canada stage right. His official title is QB Coach, but it's not difficult to see the intent behind the hiring. The Steelers did the same thing on defense the season prior, getting DC Keith Butler some assistance by hiring Teryl Austin. Austin is the secondary coach officially, but his impact was felt across the defense last year. I expect a similar impact from Canada's acquisition this year. Canada is a renowned offensive mastermind.
The Steelers not only focused on strengthening their areas of weakness, but apparently focused on procuring talent that could easily be implemented quickly, important considering the aforementioned time constraints of Ben's looming retirement and the expected impact of COVID-19 on training camp and practice time. Qualities like speed and exceptional size have no need to be coached up. They can be utilized immediately in specific roles by a creative mind, and I feel the Fichtner/Canada duo fit that description.
The Steelers have added weapons to their arsenal this off season, and they might not be done if the price is right. They went shopping and found what they could afford. Ebron, Claypool, and McFarland create mismatches whenever they walk onto the field. The game changing, big play creating speed and size they provide was nowhere to be found last season.
Some obvious shortcomings have been addressed. Now it's up to Big Ben and the Steelers coaching staff to see what they can do with it.