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Glimmers of hope for the second half of the 2022 Steelers season: Offense

There are always glimmers of hope, even in a rebuilding season, if you know where to look. Next, we are going to focus on some potential positives for the Steelers offense in the second half of this season.

New York Jets v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

In the first article of this two part Glimmers of Hope series, we took a quick glance at some potentially positive outcomes for the Steelers defense during the second half of the Steelers 2022 season. In the finale, we will do the same for the Steelers offense.

Hope is hard to come by for the 2022 Steelers offense. It is actually quite difficult to imagine the Steelers offense producing positive outcomes at any point this season; if we are being entirely honest, because Steelers Nation hasn't been fortunate enough to witness those types of performances thus far this season.

The Steelers offense has been extraordinarily pathetic in 2022. Just when you thought there was no earthly way possible that this year's offense could be as incompetent and ineffective as last year's debacle, Matt Canada steps up and confidently proclaims "Hold my beer!"

One thing about the 2021 offense that all Steelers fans could agree on was the shared hope that we would never be subjected to that level of torture ever again. The Steelers decision makers confidently believed they had a handle on the issues that caused the Steelers offensive struggles, and apparently the aforementioned Matt Canada's name didn't make the list of potential problems.

The Steelers doubled down on their commitment to the embattled offensive coordinator by focusing their offseason endeavors on acquiring additions that seemed to fit his offensive vision. Newcomers with very specific skill sets that were missing last season. Canada was shielded from criticism to a certain degree because of perceived personnel deficiencies.

The Steelers acquired quarterback mobility in Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett. Speed and splash play potential in George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. Athletic mobility and proven offensive line experience in James Daniels and Mason Cole. I feel certain all the additions didn't completely fulfil his wish list, but it's a start, and you have to start somewhere. Plenty of changes on offense, same troublesome issues on the field.

At this point of time, the Steelers offense appears fatally flawed. The list of possible reasons why is extensive. The Steelers offensive personnel are extremely young, and being lead by a 24 year old rookie quarterback. The Steelers inexplicably put the cart before the horse by repeatedly selecting skill position talent in the past decade instead of fortifying the foundation of any offense. The Steelers grossly overestimated their talent level at wide receiver, and each player's potential fit within their offensive scheme. The same could be said about the rest of the offensive personnel, leaving talented players like Najee Harris, Chase Claypool, and Kevin Dotson as ineffective fits in the Steelers game plan.

As I feel certain you have already deciphered, I am convinced that the majority of the Steelers offensive struggles are easily traced back to the continued struggles of the Steelers offensive line. The Steelers front office was forced to acknowledge the error of their ways when the Steelers finished dead last in the NFL last season in rushing. The pass protection was bottom of the league as well. The Steelers commitment to rebuilding their foundation only went so far; as the Steelers wisely invested reasonable salary cap space into three proven offensive linemen, but failed to spend any draft capital on the position.

That being said, there's no point in crying of spilled milk, and it's impossible to change what's already been done. The repercussions of the Steelers failure to maintain the integrity of their offensive foundation will be felt by the franchise for the near future. The length of this inevitable down period for the Steelers will be determined by how quickly the team is willing to recommit to rebuilding that foundation, and correcting their flawed draft approach.

As currently the least competitive offense in the NFL, the Steelers offense has nowhere to go but up. Any time you find yourself inundated with what feels like insurmountable obstacles keeping you from sustained success, it only makes sense to start with small but obtainable goals. For the Steelers, that requires a return to the fundamentals.

For better or worse, Kenny Pickett is a glimmer of hope for the Steelers. He has shown glimpses of potential, but has been tasked with keeping the franchise competitive against some of the best contending teams in the league, with zero semblance of a running game, all while throwing the ball 40+ times a game. That's a formula for disaster.

Matt Canada needs to fully embrace the reality of the situation, and the limitations of all parties involved, including his own. Canada's offense needs a spark, big enough to start an inferno hot enough to burn his entire playbook completely to the ground, where the Steelers can start completely over.

Canada needs to communicate closely with Pickett and the rest of the Steelers young offensive contributors, listening closely to their play preferences. Start on the road to recovery by simplifying the process, and limiting player's responsibilities. Refocus the offense's practice habits, by making each weeks practice results and behavior matter. Playing time for any rebuilding team should be earned by the competitive natural and intensity displayed during practices, not by salary or draft pedigrees. When multiple young newcomers reference the teams undisciplined practice habits and lack of focus on the details, that signals a much larger issue. Dare I say coaching issue.

Any improvements during the second half of the season begins and ends with the offensive line. The Steelers can assist the improvement of the offensive line by increasing Jaylen Warren's usage. An aggressive and decisive running back can be a run blocking challenged line's best friend. Warren's lack of height actually works to his advantage in many instances. Not only does it provide him with a natural low center of gravity, but it makes him difficult to see behind his much larger linemen, allowing him basically hide in plain sight.

The Steelers offense converted only one out of twelve third down opportunities against the Philadelphia Eagles in their last contest. That is a result of predictable play calling, leading to unfavorable down and distances. When the 2021 Steelers offense did enjoy a modicum of success, it was when Harris was running decisively and creating favorable second and third down scenarios.

Although there are no quick fixes for what ails the 2022 Steelers offense, a disciplined and aggressive offense willing to effectively utilize what is already there would be a good place to start.