The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is one which has many questions. There are the questions surrounding rookie running back Najee Harris. Plenty of questions surrounding the offensive line. And then there the quarterbacks. Not necessarily about starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but certainly about the team’s depth at the position.
After Tuesday’s training camp practice, Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada spoke with reporters, and provided some updates on the Steelers’ quarterback hierarchy entering the Week 2 preseason game vs. the Detroit Lions Saturday night at Heinz Field.
When asked about the backup quarterbacks, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs, Canada likes what he sees from each and every one of them.
“I think all three of them are doing a good job right now.” Canada said. “Mason [Rudolph]’s doing a good job. Obviously, we stalled a little bit with some self-inflicted wounds both times he’s been out there, like putting the ball on the ground, couple penalties, and a play here and there. I think if you can measure the whole deal, he’s doing a pretty good job. Dwayne [Haskins] has done a pretty good job. Josh [Dobbs] had a very productive first outing, even though he had the slipup last week. All three have done a good job.”
That is all great, but what about Canada’s comfort level with the backup quarterbacks. In other words, if Roethlisberger were to be lost for any amount of time, would Canada believe any combination of Rudolph, Haskins or Dobbs can get the job done?
“Right now, we’re very comfortable, but I think it’s been fun to watch the guys push. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve. There’s nothing wrong with a respectful challenge. It’s always great. Everybody should want to be the starter, everybody should want that role, and also handling your role once it’s given to you. I think those guys are working well together. Sully [Mike Sullivan]’s doing a great job with them. Every day we’re getting better.”
When speaking about Dwayne Haskins in particular, Canada spoke glowingly about the former first round draft pick by the Washington Football team.
“I’ve been really pleased with the way Dwayne has come in and attacked his work.” Canada stated. “From day one, he’s come in to the office, learned the offense, and really worked hard to watch the things we’ve done here over a long history of years with Ben. Dwyane watches what Ben does, watches the way he reads plays, and comes in learning and watching all of the quarterbacks. He’s trying to look at what Ben’s done and how he does things. I think that shows a great sense of maturity on his part. There’s a lot to learn. It’s a different offense than he’s been in before. I like being around him. I’m very pleased with him and I think he’s gotten better every day.”
With all that said, it isn’t as if Ben Roethlisberger is immune to the talk heading into the regular season. Sure, the majority of banter is based around the backup battle, but it is Roethlisberger who hopefully will be the one taking the vast majority of snaps in 2021. How has Roethlisberger been handling Canada’s offense? Is he where he should be heading into the regular season?
“I think Ben is right where he wants to be. He’s playing very well. He’s worked extremely hard to bring along the many young guys up front, working with them.” Canada said. “We’ve got a young guy in the backfield. We’ve got a young guy at tight end. He’s certainly had some rapport with those guys on the edge. They don’t have a lot of years. JuJu [Smith-Schuster]’s got a little bit more. Ben’s worked very hard to get everyone on the same page. The few changes we’ve had in our offense, the tweaks we’ve had in terminology, he’s embraced those and learned them, as well as teaching everybody else now. I’m excited for where we all are, but he’s certainly been great.”
The quarterback position will always be a position of focus for fans and media, and when it comes to Matt Canada’s unique style of offense, it will be paramount to the Steelers’ success in 2021. How they adapt, and perform, will be the deciding factor to the team’s overall ability to not just get back to the playoffs, but make a serious run at another Super Bowl championship.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.