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Is Ben Roethlisberger holding Matt Canada back?

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Through three games, the Steelers offense has been a dumpster fire. They ranked dead last in rushing, just like last year. They can't throw the ball down the field , either. Matt Canada's offense looks no different than Randy Fitchtner's. What happened to all the pre-snap motion, misdirections and creativity that we heard about all offseason. Canada was supposed to be this pre-snap motion guru, similar to Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.

We've seen very little of Canada's staples so far, which leads me to wonder if Ben Roethlisberger is holding Canada back. It's no secret that Roethlisberger isn't mobile anymore at age 39. He can barely move outside the pocket. Canada needs a quarterback that fits his system. The O-line is also abysmal, so this puts the first-year coordinator in the NFL in a tough spot.

It also doesn't help that Roethlisberger is in his 18th season as the Steelers quarterback and a future Hall of Famer. Canada only as so much say, even though he's the coordinator.

For example, would Canada call a play similar to this Trey Lance touchdown run against the Packers last night if he had a mobile quarterback? We just don't know right now. That's why I don't think you can truly evaluate Canada until he gets his type of quarterback.

At the same time, however, Canada's play-calling has been suspect through three games. And he somehow ran out of plays late in the game against the Bengals.

The Steelers were trailing 24-10 in the fourth quarter and had the ball on the Bengals' 11-yard line, facing fourth-and-10 with 3:02 remaining. The Steelers called a timeout and they came up with a swing pass to Najee Harris that resulted in a 1-yard loss. Just awful. Mike Tomlin's reasoning for the play was even worse.

"We had fired all of our bullets at that juncture in terms of some of our play selection, man. It just wasn't a good enough play to get in there,” Tomlin said.

Yeah, that's not an endorsing statement for Canada. Honestly, I'm surprised that Tomlin revealed that. How do you run out of plays?

I really don't know what to think about Canada at this point. Is Roethlisberger holding him back or was Coach Orgeron and Pat Narduzzi right that he's not good? Orgeron fired Canada midway through the 2018 season at LSU and said he regretted the decision to hire him. Then a year-old video appeared last year where Narduzzi was speaking at a Nike Football Coaches Clinic, and he made a statement that Canada "wasn't even that good" and left Pitt to LSU for more money. He didn't mention Canada by name, but it was obvious who he was referring to. He was making a point to the other coaches in attendance to remain patient.

Canada has a track record of being a journeyman in the college ranks as an offensive coordinator. Will his tenure with the Steelers be short also? I think it's way too early to tell, and I go back to the point of Roethlisberger not being his type of quarterback. He needs a mobile quarterback to be truly evaluated.

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