Entering his 18th NFL season, Ben Roethlisberger is learning a new offense under first-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada. The OC, speaking to the media for the first time since being promoted from quarterbacks coach in January, said while the playbook might be different, the plan remains the same: Build around Big Ben’s strengths.
“I think in football, it is 11 men doing their job, but the quarterback is their focal point,” Canada said Tuesday from minicamp, per the Associated Press. “We are going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it. Our job is putting every player in a position to make plays.”
The Steelers promoted Canada after not renewing Randy Fichtner’s contract following the offensive struggles last year, which saw the ground game nose-dive and the pass game restricted vertically with Big Ben coming off an injury.
The expectation is that Canada will employ more pre-snap motion, jet sweets, and tempo changes than the previous iteration of the Steelers offense. The new OC believes the tweaks to the offense will fit the 39-year-old well, and the QB won’t limit the operation.
“We would certainly continue to use tempo, and use the things that Ben is very good at to let the offense be the most productive it can possibly be,” Canada said. “There are changes with terminology and how we are calling things, which has been a challenge for Ben, but he has been great at learning it. I don’t have any concern about Ben doing anything we want him to do.”
Canada noted that he was given a directive from team president Art Rooney II, general manager Kevin Colbert, and coach Mike Tomlin to improve the running game. The new OC expects that operation to improve behind first-round pick Najee Harris. Canada also noted Harris’ ability in the passing game would help keep the running back on the field all three downs, which will allow the Steelers to be more deceptive in their plans.
“Matchups are the key to football, and what Najee can do in a game at receiver is something we are very excited about,” Canada said. “I think he’s going to have a tremendous season and a tremendous career because of his skillset, his work ethic and his football intelligence.”
After collapsing down the stretch, including a playoff pounding at the hands of rival Cleveland, the Steelers spent assets on adjusting the offense. It’s on Canada, who has no previous NFL play-calling experience, to make it all gel.
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