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Putting Matt Canada’s “Do what Ben wants to do” comments in context

The Steelers new offensive coordinator drew criticism as fans feared they will see the same offense in 2021.

Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

On Tuesday morning, Steelers new offensive coordinator Matt Canada spoke with the media in a zoom press conference. While Canada spoke about a number of things about the Steelers offense for 2021, one particular quote stands out more than others.

“We are going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it.”

When Steelers fans hear this, nightmares of the end of the 2020 season start to creep back into their minds. With former offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner having a reputation of being “Ben’s guy” and Roethlisberger actually being more of the offensive coordinator, there is a fear that Canada might just allow more of the same. But is this really what Matt Canada meant by his comment?

To dive into the quote further, it’s time to take a look at the exact question that was asked and Canada‘s full response. The question came courtesy of NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala. She asked about what parts of Ben Roethlisberger‘s game Canada wanted to keep and how has the adjustment been in getting Roethlisberger into some new things.

Canada began his response by emphasizing the importance of the quarterback position. “I think in football, it is 11 men doing their job, but the quarterback is the focal point,” Canada explained. “It’s the greatest position in all of sport, in my opinion, because of all the things you have to do.”

This is now the complete setup to the portion of the quote which has been passed around social media.

“We are going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it,” Canada stated. “Our job is putting every player in a position to make plays.”

Where Canada definitely gets it right is embracing the job of putting every player in a position to succeed. A common theme we have seen this offseason is the Steelers focusing on the message to their players of taking what they do well and getting even better at it. Playing to everyone’s strengths. It’s a great philosophy and one which should bring success.

Where Canada may have not phrased things in the best manner is his choice of the word “wants.” Is Canada simply wanting to do what Ben Roethlisberger is wanting to do, or was he actually referring to doing things which would build to Roethlisberger’s strengths? Perhaps as we read further into the quote we will get a better picture.

“There are changes with terminology and how we are calling things which has been a challenge for Ben, and he has been great and learning it. Doing really well with it. I think he has adapted easily just like we all know he would.”

Okay. Nothing so far to add to Canada’s true intention of the point of contention. Let’s keep going.

“But the answer to your question, that is our job,” Canada continued. “Matchups are how you win football games. It starts with the quarterback. What does he do well? What does he like? What does he see? What is good to his eye in the passing game and then you build off of that and that is what we are going to do.”

Interesting. If looking at this statement and compare it to the earlier one, perhaps “wants” is not the best choice of words. It seems as if Canada is talking about building to Ben Roethlisberger strengths. Some may assume that the things Ben Roethlisberger does best are the things he wants to do. While Steelers fans can’t say that for sure, perhaps the man who spent the last season as Roethlisberger‘s quarterbacks coach and is now his new offensive coordinator would know a little better.

Another interesting phrase from this response was Canada saying “What does he like?” Maybe the word “like” is it better choice than “wants,” although it may not be a better situation in the eyes of many fans.

This still was not the end of Canada‘s response. There is still one sentence left. I specifically held it back because I think it is a great conclusion to the entire answer.

“His voice and his vision, what he sees is will be what we do.”

Now the intention comes into focus a little more once seeing things as a whole. If Steelers fans are concerned about Roethlisberger simply “drawing up plays in the dirt” and figuring out what he thinks will work for every game in 2021, this does not appear to be the case. But an offensive coordinator coming in to work with a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback with 17 years of NFL experience would be foolish not to rely on what he sees on the field.

If you were still concerned about the exact choice of words Canada used in regards to doing what Ben wants, perhaps the answer to the very next question will ease your mind.

The following question came courtesy of Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He asked about the importance of the quarterback being under center and running play action and if Ben Roethlisberger can do those things well at this point of his career.

“Ben can do everything really well. I don’t have any concern about Ben doing anything we want to do to that part of your question. As far as, if you are going to run the football, I think play-action is very important. We have to be able to run the ball.”

If Steelers’ Nation is still concerned over Canada‘s remarks on Tuesday, I think looking at a greater sample of what he said can give a little more peace of mind. Canada has not done a lot of press conferences since coming to the NFL, so perhaps maybe he just phrased things in a way which didn’t accurately depict what he meant.

Then again, perhaps the exact wording he used is exactly what he meant.

Until the Steelers take the field in the regular season this fall, we probably still won’t know exactly how things are going to pan out with Ben Roethlisberger running Matt Canada’s offense and exactly how it will look. But for now, Steelers fans will likely take Canada‘s words and run with them in whichever way they wants to go.