Can the Pittsburgh Steelers offense be fixed this season?
On this week’s episode of the Steelers Fix Podcast, Jeremy Betz and I had an interesting conversation about the Steelers offense, and whether or not it could be fixed this season. If you have not listened to our show this week, be sure to do so by clicking on the player below this article.
I do not think I have to sell you on the idea that Pittsburgh’s offense stinks. Outside of a big play to George Pickens or Calvin Austin once per game, the passing game has struggled mightily, and the running game cannot display any sort of sustained success. Are the obstacles holding back the Steelers things that can be fixed this season, or is the offense done for in 2023?
Let’s begin with the obvious: Matt Canada is not getting fired this season. This would have been the week to do it if the Steelers were truly looking to make a move, and it did not happen. This is honestly where my answer rides or dies on, and the answer is that I do not think the Steelers offense is fixable as long as Matt Canada is the offensive coordinator. His inability to scheme players open, specifically his star players, will continue to hurt this offense, barring a philosophical change on the part of Canada. George Pickens must become the focal point of this offense, but Canada has done a lousy job of designing plays that are specialized to get him the ball specifically.
As it pertains to the running game, I believe Eddie Faulker deserves some of the blame. Najee Harris has not developed in any of his weak areas coming out of college, and many of these issues are not difficult fixes. He runs too high, he is slow out of his stance, and it takes a while for him to build up speed. Le’Veon Bell was a special running back, but even when he was unavailable due to suspension or holdout, James Saxon always had other running backs well prepared and outperforming their expectations. When Bell was suspended, Saxon worked with DeAngelo Williams, who most people thought was washed up at that point in his career, and turned him into a productive running back. When Bell held out, Saxon had James Conner ready to go.
The Steelers got fortunate with Jaylen Warren, but Najee Harris has not developed at all, and I blame Eddie Faulkner for that. But, just like Matt Canada, no change is going to be made here mid-season. Thus, the only thing that will help improve the running game is better offensive line play, which I believe will come in time. It will not be enough to transform the running game, though.
The passing game is concerning on multiple levels. The play calling is the biggest hindrance, but Kenny Pickett’s accuracy has been all over the place this season, and his decision-making has been extremely questionable. I believe Kenny Pickett can still be a good starter for the Steelers if they can find a competent offensive coordinator to pair with him, but ultimately, Kenny does not appear to believe in this offense. You can tell by his demeanor on the field.
In conclusion, my simple answer to the question is a hard “No,” because Matt Canada is still the offensive coordinator. I believe better offensive line play as the season progresses could improve the offense overall, but nothing can fix the Steelers entire offense, barring an overhaul of the offensive assistant coaches. Unfortunately for fans, it will not happen until at least 2024.
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