There’s no question that the Pittsburgh Steelers (and the team’s fans) needed the win over the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football. Starting 0-2 would have made making the playoffs almost completely out of reach. Plus losing two straight at home would be demoralizing, especially with a loss to the hated Browns.
That doesn’t mean that everything in Pittsburgh is rosy Tuesday. Through two games, the offense has only managed two touchdowns while turning the ball over four times (three interceptions and one lost fumble.) The lack of success has put offensive coordinator Matt Canada in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. CBS Sports Radio’s Andrew Perloff offered up his take on Canada’s performance on Tuesday’s episode of Maggie And Perloff.
“I can’t believe some of the plays they ran last night,” Perloff said. “They were shocking. It was like me playing Madden but drunk.”
Perloff, prior to the season, had the Steelers as his dark horse candidate for Super Bowl contention. His co-host, Maggie Gray, questioned him about how he felt about that very pick after two weeks.
“Not good, but there’s an easy fix,” Perloff said. “Fire the offensive coordinator… I guess I underestimated it. What happened was they were amazing in preseason on offense. I’m tweeting so much about them, and, well, Matt Canada has not been trustworthy, but man, he is letting everyone down.”
There’s no question that Pittsburgh has faced two high-quality defenses in the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns. However, the numbers for the Steelers offense are not good. Through two games, the offense has run 114 plays and averaged 4.3 yards per play. Their opponents have run 147 plays and have averaged 5.4 yards per play, and Pittsburgh has a darn good defense that single-handedly won the game Monday night.
QB Kenny Pickett has completed 46 passes on 76 attempts, a 60.5 completion percentage, for 454 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. He’s throwing a touchdown on 2.6% of his throws compared to an interception on 3.9%. He’s been sacked seven times for 56 yards. The running game has been no better. In total, the Steelers have run the ball 31 times for 96 yards, averaging 3.1 yards per carry and no touchdowns.
Per Pro Football Reference, 16% of Pittsburgh’s offensive drives end with them scoring, whether that’s a touchdown or field goal. 16% of their offensive drives have ended in turnovers. They average under two minutes, less than five plays, less than 20 yards, and 0.80 points per drive. Conversely, 37% of their opponents’ drives have ended with a score, while 18.5% have ended with a turnover. They average almost three minutes, almost six plays, almost 30 yards, and 1.85 points per drive.
While the 49ers put up 30 points on Pittsburgh’s defense, the defense was not why the Steelers lost Week One. The offense went three-and-out on their first five drives of the game. The defense is the reason they beat Cleveland, scoring two defensive touchdowns, including the game-winning score by T.J. Watt.
No, the problem with the 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers is the offense. You can argue that there are problems with the personnel on the field, but the offensive coordinator needs to put his players in the best position possible to make positive plays. Too often through two weeks, it’s looking like Canada is failing to do so. As Albert Breer said, the Steelers need to get answers about Pickett, and Canada is proving so far that he isn’t the coordinator best suited to getting real answers.