3 Offensive Packages the Steelers Should Employ in 2023
The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled to get creative on offense in recent years, no matter who is calling the plays. Supporters of the coaching staff have argued that not all the pieces on offense have been in place, while the more frustrated crowd has had enough and wants change to take place.
Regardless of which side you may reside, I believe we can all agree there are no excuses left for Matt Canada and company. He has a budding star in second-year wideout George Pickens, reliable veterans in Allen Robinson and Diontae Johnson, a speed demon in Calvin Austin III, and two do-it-all tight ends in Pat Freiermuth and Darnell Washington. He also has a solid starter at running back in Najee Harris.
However, the biggest reason why Matt Canada has no more excuses is the revamped offensive line. After several years of lackluster play up front, the Steelers finally added premier talent along the line, signing free-agent guard Isaac Seumalo and drafting offensive tackle Broderick Jones. Adding them to a line that already includes veterans Mason Cole and James Daniels should round out a unit capable of being one of the top ten in the league.
What makes this offense even more intriguing is the depth pieces at the back end of the roster. Under the Kevin Colbert regime, it seemed as if every offseason the depth pieces acquired were always less than stellar in terms of athleticism. Is athleticism everything? Of course not. However, many of the Kevin Colbert teams were filled with players on the back end of the roster who did not bring any excitement to fans when they entered the game. You knew what they were, and you knew they were only capable of so much.
While there is nothing wrong with consistent low-ceiling skill players, they do not allow an offense to diversify in the world of special packages. Fortunately, the new-look front office appears to value athleticism on the back end of the roster, as they have made several intriguing acquisitions, specifically at wide receiver. This could allow Matt Canada to get creative and play out of special packages in certain situations. Today, we are going to look at three offensive packages I believe the Steelers should create specifically for their current roster build.
1. The 5-Wide JUMBO Package
A great package to use on 2nd and 3rd down when in the red zone would be a 5-wide JUMBO package. The addition of Hakeem Butler could add serious flexibility to the offense as a whole, as his 6’5″ frame is not something defensive backs want to face near the end zone. With Kenny Pickett in the gun, put 6’3″ George Pickens out wide to the left, 6’5″ Pat Freiermuth in the left slot, 6’7″ Darnell Washington slightly off the right side of the line in a receiver’s stance, 6’2″ Allen Robinson in the right slot, and 6’4″ Myles Boykin out wide to the right. As elementary as it may seem to simply put all the big guys out there, who wants to deal with that size on 3rd and Goal at the 7-yard line? With Kenny Pickett’s ability to put precise touch on passes, let him throw some lob passes, allowing the big-bodied receiving entities to do the rest.
2. The Goal Line JUMBO Package
This package is something we’ve seen at the NFL level before, but it became popular during Clemson’s peak in the college football landscape. Dabo Swinney loved using this in short-yardage situations, and if we are being honest, why wouldn’t he? Nobody could stop it. I propose that Matt Canada employ the same package this season, with the permission of defensive line coach Karl Dunbar. Get both Washington and Freiermuth blocking on the ends, and put a couple defensive linemen in the backfield. While we are at it, throw Nate Herbig in the lineup, whether it be as an extra blocker on the line or as a fullback in the backfield. Imagine opposing defenses at the 2-yard line, trying to bring down a Keeanu Benton that is running behind Armon Watts, Nick Herbig, and an improved offensive line. Bully ball at its finest!
3. The Speed Package
Another intriguing concept the Steelers could use in the middle portions of the field is a speed package. The utilization of crossing routes could be deadly in a 5WR package that includes Calvin Austin, Diontae Johnson, George Pickens (in case you forgot, he is pretty fast in his own right), Myles Boykin (see also, George Pickens), and Anthony McFarland. On top of the speed involved in this package is the great size on the boundary the Steelers would still have in Pickens and Boykin. Putting the best possible speed on the field all at once would not be at the expense of losing big guys on the outside.
Which offensive package would you like to see more of in 2023? Do you believe any of the aforementioned packages could work with the current Steelers roster structure? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!