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What might Matt Canada's offense look like?

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

In public comments this week, Art Rooney II touched on improvements he'd like to see from the offense, notably mentioning the need to strengthen the run game while recognizing that the scheme grew stale as the season went on. Rooney, along with the rest of Steeler Nation, hopes that recently promoted offensive coordinator Matt Canada will inject a more modern flair to the unit. So what might that look like?

Jet Motion

Does this play look familiar? It should.

Because it's nearly identical to the jet sweeps the Steelers ran successfully with Chase Claypool early in the season. It's pretty much an open secret that the Steelers got away from Canada's influence toward the middle of the year, and the jet sweeps are a glaring example of how this happened. Claypool carried the ball six times in the first six weeks of the season, including this game-sealing first down and two touchdowns. But over the last eleven weeks of the season, Claypool carried the ball just four times. Expect to see more of this horizontal running scheme with Canada calling the offense.

Motion run game

Canada also likes to use motion to influence the run game between the tackles. Watch how Anthony McFarland's motion forces the middle linebackers to bite down, clearing the lane for the running back.

And here's McFarland taking it to the house thanks in part to some more motion influencing the second level. It's clear that Canada likes to force defenders to make split decisions in the run game. The more a linebacker has to think about what is going on in front of him, the more he slows down. This allows athletes such as McFarland to do their thing in open space.

As an aside, expect McFarland to have an increased role in Canada's regardless of if the Steelers bring in another running back.

Pulling linemen

Canada also likes to deploy pulling linemen to create numbers advantages in the run game. This was the Steelers' bread and butter for a long time and something we should expect to see often in 2021. Obviously, the Steelers struggled mightily to run the ball last season, and much of that was due to injuries to guys like David Decastro, Matt Feiler, and Maurkice Pouncey.

We can expect young stud Kevin Dotson to take on a starting role next season, but it will be fascinating to see if the Steelers bring in some more young and athletic linemen (especially at center and tackle) to execute run schemes like this one. Watch the left guard and center get out and mash to create a hole for the running back. Is this something we can expect Pouncey to be able to do consistently next year?


Another interesting aspect of Canada's offense at Maryland is that they pushed the ball downfield. While the foundation was a strong run game, some of their best plays came off play-action and with shots over the top. Even if JuJu Smith-Schuster walks, the Steelers have the pass catchers to create splash plays. The offensive line will need to play significantly better to allow Big Ben (we assume) the time to throw the ball deep, which he can still do in a clean pocket.

Expect Claypool and Diontae Johnson to put up massive numbers in Canada's scheme.

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