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Steelers Film Room: Both Trubisky and Canada at Fault for Offensive Struggles

The Pittsburgh Steelers can point fingers two ways for their poor offense.

When a team loses, it's often a collective effort and no one person is truly at fault. There's not often finger-pointing to the other side of the ball in the locker room and in the Pittsburgh Steelers case in Week 2, there were missed opportunities on every side of the ball.

Cameron Sutton's crucial dropped interception at midfield with Pittsburgh down 10-6 would end up being a turning point. While Pittsburgh's defense was able to get off the field to force the punt, a game-changing mistake was made as Gunner Olszewski wound up muffing the punt, leading to a touchdown off the turnover.

Each side of the ball had their missed opportunities and each one is at fault for the loss. The offense though in particular showed to have some pretty damning plays on the all-22, particularly when it came to Mitchell Trubisky and play-caller Matt Canada.

The first play of the game though showed some concerning vision for Najee Harris:

The Steelers are running what is referred to as "duo," which is an inside gap scheme run involving two double teams in the interior line of scrimmage. You will see the right guard and the right tackle double the 3 technique, while the center and left guard double the nose before both guards climb to the 2nd level defenders. It's very peculiar to see Najee Harris bring his eyes towards the outside immediately, where Deatrich Wise is matched up on Pat Freiermuth (a huge length mismatch)

The offensive line did its job and generated great push, but Najee just didn't stay disciplined to the play design, which would've led to a massive run to start the game. He has had some concerns with bouncing runs to the outside going back to his college days, so it's important to keep tabs on developments (or lack thereof) in this regard.

While a missed opportunity on the first play of the game isn't too bad, you never want to see missed touchdowns, which is what ended up happening on this next play with Mitchell Trubisky:

The Steelers have the perfect play called for this coverage, you can see the safety is playing way off Claypool pre-snap and he's gonna have a tough time going under Diontae's "rub route" given his leverage.

First off, this is what the Steelers and Trubisky wanted, this is a touchdown pre-snap and it stays that way post snap. Trubisky actually shows his experience here though, he saw the LB creeping down pre-snap, so he's aware of the possibility of a free runner down the B gap. He adjusts his dropback to drift back left, which gives Najee a clean path on the blitz pickup. What ends up ruining a great process was some questionable footwork. 

Trubisky has a short choppy 5 step drop here that causes him to get off balance at the end of his drop. He can still recover here though despite that, but what ends that dream is his tendency to bounce here. He needs to keep both cleats in the ground and fire that off the top of his drop. He had the process down, the mechanics of it all was what did this play in.

While I'm unsure if Kenny Pickett would've adjusted his drop to drift away from the oncoming blitzer, I do have confidence he would've kept his cleats in the ground and fired it off the top of his drop. One of his best traits at Pitt was his mechanics in quick-hitting concepts like these.

This next play generated quite a lot of discussion among fans and analysts alike:

It's 1st and 10 and as you can see, the Patriots end up disguising their initial coverage pre-snap, showing more of a 2 high shell pre-snap. Freiermuth comes in motion and no one travels with him, which gives a decent indicator that the Patriots are in zone coverage. Post snap, the strong safety Kyle Dugger rotates to the deep third along the boundary. This gives the indication they're in a cover 3 cloud, with the boundary cornerback jamming Diontae Johnson off the line.

Yankee concept

Pittsburgh looks to be running from what I can only assume is a Yankee concept that ends up stressing the free safety more like the pseudo mills concept. Unlike mills though, there is no built-in shallow crosser here and instead, you have Freiermuth with a leak out underneath towards the field side. Johnson's route timing gets disrupted so he and Claypool do not end up meeting at the mesh.

Regardless if it's Yankee or mills, both of these concepts involve reading the free safety first. Trubisky has the right idea here because he's got his eyes middle of the field the whole way. The issue is if it is indeed Yankee, Claypool's route is a post, not a dig. So the deep post-field side that Pickens is running is one of the latter progressions here and is unlikely to be one of the main reads.

This is a very complicated progression and Trubisky elects to take the check down to Freiermuth which is a good, serviceable QB decision. The issue is the post is open and there are some quarterbacks in the league who would've taken that deep post in this situation if they saw the safety cheating down Claypool's post here.

Some may say that Kenny Pickett would've thrown the deep post here, but I have a major reason to believe that he does not:

Won't waste too much time breaking this down here, but the problem is essentially the same. The pre-snap indicator is a 2-shell, before rotating into single high post-snap, gets the manipulation of the free safety and elects not to throw the post. The progression and play design is different, but the process is generally the same with similar results.

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The problem is that even if there's a QB change, it does not fix the biggest issue with this offense:

Matt Canada is on the hot seat and people are quite frankly tired of this offense. The sequencing of plays was a problem last season and not much has changed on that front. Meanwhile, the progressions are all over the place as was outlined earlier.

Then, there was this monstrosity of a play call:

I cannot speak to designing optimal plays, but I genuinely have no clue what I am looking at. If this is supposed to be a running back draw action with a built-in RPO, then how is any QB in the gun here going to have any time to read this out, or what is even the purpose of this? This play is just a downright mess and it also leads to an ineligible man downfield penalty.

To top it all off, both the quarterback and the receivers for the Steelers had some choice words about the offense:

Bad play calls are one thing, but when you have both the receivers and quarterback outwardly criticizing the play calling and concepts they're being asked to execute, this is a problem that can't be ignored anymore.

Another huge issue currently ongoing is the lack of usage for George Pickens. While part of that can be put on Trubisky lacking vision down the field, Pickens in a majority of the concepts called has had a very basic route tree.

One of the concerns coming out about Pickens was the fact he didn't have a ton of experience running all the routes at Georgia. If someone were to look at his highest percentage of routes run, they could draw the conclusion from that the Steelers aren't limiting him.

Just because someone isn't asked to perform something, does not always mean they can't. 

"I think I could look for 14 more often," Trubisky told media. "He's doing a great job for us, and I've just got to get these playmakers the football."

The offense is a mess, both structurally and at times QB-wise. Going into a short week, Thursday night football game against the Browns, it's very unlikely things are going to change much, but definitely look for Trubisky to try to get Pickens involved more.

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