The Pittsburgh Steelers will be moving forward with Matt Canada. That’s perhaps not the best thing for Ben Roethlisberger.
The one certain thing is Randy Fichtner will be leaving the team. Pittsburgh’s second-half debacle to close out their 11-0 start showed that the Steelers offensive coordinator was the biggest problem in the room.
The recent hiring, though, might not be best for Big Ben, despite some level of familiarity.
The Steelers announced they promoted quarterback’s coach Matt Canada to the role of OC for the 2021 season. Canada, whose offense is based more on the pre-snap motion, will be an interesting fit in the NFL. However, given the recent success of primarily college-based systems in the NFL (see Joe Brady), who’s to say Canada’s playbook won’t work until we see it live?
Canada’s play-calling is designed to work best at the college level. That won’t sit well with a quarterback that’s been in the league for 18 years. Should Pittsburgh bring back Big Ben, it’ll be a tough transition for a quarterback accustomed to running things his way.
Roethlisberger and Canada are a complicated fit
The one thing that matters at this point in Roethlisberger’s career is fit to an offense. Philip Rivers agreed to terms with the Colts due to his connection with Frank Reich. After struggling to adapt to Bruce Arians’ system, the Buccaneers elected to run the offense that best suits Tom Brady.
Low and behold, both units finished top 10 in total offense. Why? Scheme fit.
Roethlisberger worked hand in hand with Fichtner after the firing of Todd Haley. His play designs helped the veteran lead the NFL in passing for the 2018 season. It also let Roethlisberger basically control his own pace of play.
The biggest concern for both parties was trying to extend plays downfield. Roethlisberger threw for a career-low average of 6.3 yards per attempt and only after taking control away from Fichtner did the soon to be 39-year-old start dialing up some downfield passing.
Canada’s offense will go one of two ways. First, the deception and misdirection will allow the Steelers to throw opponents off the trail, leading to bigger plays. This would open up more opportunities for Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool to win off the play-action or jet sweeps into open territory.
Option two would be Roethlisberger becoming flustered with the play-calling, struggling to learn a new system and everything in Pittsburgh blows up. The Steelers would be out a massive $41.25 million in cap space and the team suffers a disappointing finish with few questions about their future answered.
Ultimately, Pittsburgh’s firing of Fichtner might affect Roethlisberger’s decision. Then again, that extra $19 million speaks dividends for a player that could be looking for one final payday.
Everything with the Steelers is complicated at the moment. Perhaps what’s even more complicated than Canada’s play designs is how Roethlisberger will handle learning a new scheme in the twilight years of his career.