In Thursdays night’s victory over the Tennessee Titans, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense looked a bit better. No, they did not set the world on fire but it was clear it looked like it was close to starting to click. One reason for that could be moving offensive coordinator Matt Canada from the booth to the sideline.
Canada’s move to the sideline was a pretty big deal as the Steelers are trying to do anything to get their sputtering offensive unit going. Yesterday on Pro Football Talk, which was posted to NFL on NBC’s YouTube, Mike Florio said that moving Canada was the first time Pittsburgh acknowledged something was wrong with their offense.
“[Moving Canada was] The first acknowledgment, directly or indirectly, by the Steelers that something was amiss with their offensive attack,” said Florio.
Canada is likely the most well-known offensive coordinator in the NFL and not for any good reasons. In his three years calling the plays for Pittsburgh, the Steelers have averaged 20.2 (2021), 18.8 (2022) and 16.6 (2023) points per game, never once cracking the top half of the NFL.
However, things could change, or at least get slightly better with Canada moving to the sideline.
In Thursday night’s win, the offensive game plan looked good, and if QB Kenny Pickett wasn’t off on his passing early on in the game it is possible the Steelers run away with the victory. Canada legitimately dialed up some really good plays, such as the deep pass to WR Calvin Austin III which was just slightly underthrown and resulted in an incompletion instead of a touchdown.
The offensive players even noted the difference in Canada on the sideline with Pickett calling it a “positive,” and WR Diontae Johnson voicing his support for it as well.
Calling plays from the sideline is completely different from the booth, and Florio explained why.
“It is dramatic,” Florio said. “It’s completely different. It’s like a lab setting when you’re in the booth and you can see everything that’s happening on the field and you’re detached from the emotion of the game. You’re down on the sideline you can’t see it all the same way. It’s loud, it’s hectic, you get caught up, the adrenaline flows.”
Although Canada may get a better view from the booth, it clearly was not working for him nor the Steelers. Moving to the sideline, while Canada may not have as good of a view, could actually help him in the play calling department.
As upset as some are with the playbook, at this point it is what it is, the team is not going to scrap it in the middle of the season, especially post-bye week. However, being on the field could give Canada a better feel for the game and end up having play calls that fit the game flow a bit better. There are many times when the Steelers are on offense where the team tries some trick play and it kills the momentum they have. It is possible that part of that is because of a detachment from the feel of the game that one would normally have sitting one the sideline.
It is very possible this does not work, but at this point the Steelers have to try something. They are 5-3 and are int he thick of not only the playoff hunt, but also the hunt for the division crown. If the offense improves this Steelers team can make a run, there is a ton of talent and the team is starting to get a bit healthier
Time will tell if moving Canada to the sideline actually works, but with his contract up after the season, he (and the Steelers) will be looking for anything to spark the offense and save his job.