The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team coming off a 3-0 NFL Preseason, but are not brimming with confidence. At least not on the offensive side of the football. To be completely honest, if the unit was extremely confident at this juncture, many fans might take umbrage to such a feeling.
Throughout the 3-game preseason, the Steelers offense has been hit-or-miss. Week 1 vs. the Seattle Seahawks was brimming with big plays in both the run and pass game. Week 2 vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars saw the offense stymied time and time again. And Week 3 vs. the Detroit Lions saw a small step forward, but nothing like what was seen at Acrisure Stadium in the first preseason game.
As the team now turns their attention away from the exhibition games and to the regular season, offensive coordinator Matt Canada doesn’t have an easy job ahead of him. He is tasked with getting his offense on the same page, and gelling, before their opening game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
In regards to the offensive production, anyone who has watched this team both in the preseason and 2021 knows it’s all about the men up front. The offensive line, and Canada knows he has to get them going when it matters most.
“I’m comfortable with them.” Canada told reporters. “We’re going to continue to get better and continue to work to put them in a good position to make plays. That falls on me. There always will be things that will happen that we’re not going to like that everyone’s going to talk about, but I’m never going to talk about those things in here. It’s going to be about getting better and working better.
“I think we’re progressing along. We do have a new group. You look at Mason [Cole] and James and Chuks [Okorafor], we’ve got three guys that have played a little and we’ve got a couple younger guys on the other side. There’s good plays and bad plays and we’ve just got to keep gelling together and keep getting better.”
One of the players who has been struggling during the preseason has been second year offensive tackle Dan Moore Jr. His struggles have many wondering if Chukwuma Okorafor, the starting right tackle, could possibly move to the left side.
“I don’t view Chuks as just a right tackle.” Canada said when asked about a potential transition. “I think Chuks is really, really talented. But I think right now, we feel like where we are gives us the best chance to win today. That’s where we’re at. I would never pigeonhole us to say we couldn’t do something down the road, but right now that’s where we are. We’ve got great faith in where we’re at and we’re going to keep getting better.”
The bottom line is the Steelers are a very talented offense, when you look at the skill position players. The running backs, wide receivers and tight ends are all brimming with both talent and potential. The question now becomes can Canada get them in position to succeed?
“I think we’re really, really talented on the outside and I think our skill players are really, really talented.” Canada remarked. “Obviously, we’ve had some different reasons that guys haven’t practiced with injuries and obviously Tae [Diontae Johnson] early on. But you look at Tae, and Chase [Claypool], and George [Pickens] has come on and played very, very well. There’s so many other wideouts that have played very well. The depth at wideout is something I’m excited about. Pat [Freiermuth]’s ability to make plays at the tight end position is good, and I talk about Naj[ee Harris] and what he can do. So, I’m really excited about that and the versatility that it gives us, and we just have to do a good job blending that together.
“And I am pleased, again, with the way all three quarterbacks have played. Obviously, until we start playing real games it doesn’t count. But I think to be standing here today, I don’t think we could have made it work the way we wanted it to work and now Coach has to make a decision and he’ll make that decision and we’ll move forward. But I feel good about where we’re at with those guys, and we’ll continue to gel up front. I really like our guys. I feel good about it.”
Many believe Canada will be coaching for his NFL career this season, and his ability to get the offense going, more than he did last year, will be vital to not just the success of the team, but also too him keeping his job.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the regular season opener in Cincinnati.