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The Steelers offensive issues were more than Matt Canada

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a dismal opening game vs. the San Francisco 49ers where the offense was able to muster only a touchdown, and very little else. Up until the 95-yard touchdown drive to end the first half, the Steelers had yet to get a first down and managed just single-digit yards gained.

It was more than just a bad day at the office, it was a complete failure.

But while every Steelers fan around the globe wants to play the blame game, mainly directed towards offensive coordinator Matt Canada, they should realize it was a team failure, not just falling on any one man’s shoulders.

Is Canada to blame? He shoulders some of the blame.

How about Kenny Pickett? Some of the blame.

Offensive line? You get where I’m going with this.

Canada had to hear the criticisms and downright vitriol being spewed his way on social media, so much so he opened up his weekly media availability not by answering questions, but with a preamble of sorts.

Before we get going, obviously the start of the game was not what we wanted, so I’ll say it. Five three-and-outs is not what we expected.

Obviously not acceptable, but certainly not what we expected, going through camp and all those things.
Once that occurred, probably the only high point of the game for us was the two-minute drive, the 95-yard drive, got ourselves back in it a little bit, continued to stay down by three scores, and at that point we were always playing from behind. Did not get into a routine, our plan. Our guys all know that, but that’s just the facts of how it went. Disappointed in how we did with that. Had one shot down there 1st and 10 on the 14, had a chance to score, make it a two-score game. If we do that, I think there’s a chance to get back in somewhat of a rhythm. That didn’t occur, we stayed down three scores, so then you’re really in a two-minute mode the whole time.

I say all that. Wasn’t good. Can’t score seven points. Can’t do all those things. No secret about that, so I’m giving you that, but I’m also saying it’s one game, and we’ve got to move on, and for me it’s Thursday. We’ve got to do this now with you guys and I appreciate that, but for us we’ve moved on. It’s not what we expected. It’s not how we practiced. It’s not how our guys have played, and by no means do we have concern that that’s going to continue, but certainly appreciate that that’s what we did, and it was disappointing, but we’ve got to move on.

Now I’ll take your questions.

In case you didn’t know, that isn’t normal protocol for any coordinator as they get ready to be peppered with questions from the media. But Canada knew what was coming, and it was his job to deflect blame away from his players.

Canada answered questions about the offensive line, plenty about Pickett’s day at the office, and overall schematics and game planning which he danced around as he always has since being promoted to offensive coordinator.

While Canada is an easy target, it should be known the opening week performance is far from one man’s responsibility. Could Canada have called a better game? Absolutely he could have, and most will point to the “pop pass” on the second play of the game to Calvin Austin III as Exhibit A. However, was it Canada’s fault on that play Pat Freiermuth looked as if he had ever been taught out to block and seal the edge on this particular play?

No.

That’s the point. While the coordinator always takes the majority of the blame, he is far from the only person who deserves criticism for the job they did in Week 1.

Considering the disdain for Canada, it made me think when was the last time the Steelers had an offensive coordinator they actually liked? One which wasn’t the immediate scapegoat for any offensive failures the team might experience on a weekly basis?

Randy Fichtner? Ha…think again.

Todd Haley? Offense was productive, but fans wanted him gone.

Bruce Arians? Don’t kid yourself, fans hated the beating Ben Roethlisberger was taking when he was calling plays.

To me, you’d have to go back to the Ken Whisenhunt or Mike Mularkey days as to the last offensive coordinator the fan base didn’t bash relentlessly every time something went wrong. What was the correlation between those two play callers and their overall perception?

The Steelers won during their tenures. They made the playoffs, and even won Super Bowls.

That’s the difference.

The end result is what ultimately matters, and if the Steelers start to put things together, Canada won’t be the main target of fan angst on a weekly basis. Just look at the preseason, was anyone bashing Canada then?

Nope.

Winning cures all, and while fans want to point a finger at someone to blame, a target for the masses carrying pitchforks and torches, if the team turns things around those angry mobs will have to find a new target.

Let’s hope that happens.

Be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 of the regular season on Monday Night Football.

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