People use the term “clickbait” a great deal in expressing their displeasure over particular articles. For example, when I wrote that Kendrick Green, the Steelers newest third-round draft choice, could actually go on to become the greatest center in franchise history, at least one person accused me of clickbait...I guess because of an ability they thought I had for being able to know such things way ahead of time?
That’s not clickbait. You know what clickbait actually is? A headline that reads: “You’ll never guess what Big Ben refuses to do this summer at Steelers training camp” followed by an article about how Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won’t be trimming his beard until the start of the regular season.
Clickbait might be a thing when it comes to certain articles, but you know what’s an even bigger problem on the Internet? People not reading articles. That’s right, people don’t read.
I guess that’s why it was really easy for the media to dupe Steelers fans into being extremely angry last week by taking one quote from a press conference with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada—“We are going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it”—and run that sucker into the ground. If you would have just searched out Canada’s whole quote—again, I realize lots of folks don’t like to read, but I found the entire thing on YouTube—you would have gained a broader perspective of what he really meant.
And what Canada meant was that he wants Roethlisberger to run the plays and do the things that he’s most comfortable with...within the framework of his offensive system.
I knew that before I even found Canada’s interview on YouTube. Why? Because it makes total sense, that’s why. But the media knew a lot of fans wouldn’t go digging; they’d just see that quote and head for the nearest bridge. Why? Because many Steelers fans were presupposing that Canada would come in and try to force-feed Roethlisberger a radical new offensive scheme.
That was never, ever going to happen. Canada wasn’t brought in to totally overhaul the Steelers offense and make Roethlisberger become a completely different player at the age of 39. That just wouldn’t make sense, and it would have been a horrible business decision.
Heck, Todd Haley didn’t even do that after he was hired to be the Steelers’ new offensive coordinator in 2012. Nope, he simply followed Art Rooney II’s edict and helped Roethlisberger “tweak” the way he played. Roethlisberger became a much better and more efficient passer under Haley, but he didn’t radically change the way he played quarterback. Why? Because the way he had been doing it up to that point was incredibly effective.
You can say the same for the 2021 version of Roethlisberger. The Steelers offense struggled down the stretch in 2020, but it started out looking mostly unstoppable. In my opinion, Canada was hired to smooth out the rough edges that made the offense so anemic by the end of the 2020 campaign. In other words, he was brought in to “tweak” the scheme and game-plan and find what works best for all involved.
Of course, there’s also the “He’s too big for his britches” perception of Roethlisberger that gets under the skin of a lot of folks. When they see a quote such as, “Do what he wants to do,” it just rubs them the wrong way.
“He should just shut up and call the plays that he’s told to call.” Oh, really? You want someone like Roethlisberger, who has accomplished so much during his legendary career, to just do what he’s told? You don’t want him offering any input? You don’t want him offering any suggestions based on the countless defenses he’s had to read and break down over the past 17 seasons?
That doesn’t seem logical, nor does it make sense to assume that Canada’s new system will be much different from what Roethlisberger has known up to this point. To reiterate, Roethlisberger has been pretty darn good at his job since coming into the league in 2004.
If you’re Canada, you want to incorporate a lot of what Roethlisberger knows, likes and does well into your new offensive system.
That’s what any good coach would do, and it’s still up in the air as to whether or not Canada is a good coach.
Will the terminology be different? That’s a question we can already answer with a definitive “Yes!” But that was part of the reason why Canada was hired in the first place. He was brought in to make the offense less predictable and more creative.
Canada wasn’t hired to seize total control of the unit and make Roethlisberger one of his foot soldiers.
One of Mike Tomlin's smartest decisions, when he was hired to be the Steelers’ new head coach back in 2007, was keeping Dick LeBeau on as his defensive coordinator. It would have been easy for Tomlin, a former defensive coordinator in his own right, to come in and say, “This is my ship, and I’m the captain.” However, he knew a good thing when he saw it. Perhaps, Tomlin knew that a collaborative approach would have been better.
Maybe that’s how Canada feels about working with his first professional franchise quarterback.
Even if Canada doesn’t feel that way, he probably knows that’s the smart move.
Ben Roethlisberger doing what he wants will always be what’s best for the Steelers and their offense.
Hmmm, maybe I should have made that my headline. It’s very clickbaity.