Steelers Reacts Survey: Temp check on Matt Canada ahead of Week 4

Levi Wallace #29 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates an interception in the game against the Las Vegas Raiders during the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Sound off, Steelers Nation!

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Pittsburgh Steelers fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in the weekly emailed surveys.

Another week, another dub for Steelers fans! Is it all a mirage, though? After rising above .500 with a win over the Raiders on Monday Night Football, there are plenty of questions that remain about the season ahead.

The biggest question of them all is, “What do we make of Matt Canada after a solid offensive outing?” How confident are we that the Steelers fans saw in Week 3 is the same Steelers team they’ll see moving forward? Do the Steelers have a legitimate shot at the playoffs? For what it’s worth, odds now just slightly favor the Steelers to make the playoffs at -115 over at DraftKings Sportsbook…

Now’s your chance to weigh in. Vote away, Steelers Nation. Let’s hear your thoughts!

Be sure to check back on Friday as we reveal how you — the fans — voted on the questions above!

OG James Daniels, WR Allen Robinson among those with ‘bumps and bruises’ ahead of Week 4

James Daniels #78 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stands on the sidelines during the national anthem prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on August 11, 2023 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers head out for their second road game of the season in Week 4, this time down south for a Sunday afternoon showdown against the Houston Texans. HC Mike Tomlin provided several injury updates ahead of the game.

Among the injuries Tomlin acknowledged Tuesday was that of starting right guard James Daniels, being evaluated for a groin injury after Sunday’s game. Daniels had played 100% of snaps in Week 3, so hopefully, this note comes out of an abundance of caution. Daniels was previously listed on the Week 2 injury report with an unrelated ankle issue.

Among the other “bumps and brusies” Tomlin noted following Week 3 were WR Allen Robinson, who will likely limited early in the week with an ankle injury, as well as punter Pressley Harvin III, who is dealing with a hamstring injury coming off one of the better outings so far in his career.

The Steelers will hold their first team practice ahead of Week 4’s game against the Texans on Wednesday, which will provide a more complete look at the health of the team. For now, it doesn’t appear there’s much to be concerned with ahead of Week 4, but time will tell.

Mike Tomlin on Steelers’ lost mojo: ‘I didn’t mean it’

Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a play in the game against the Las Vegas Raiders during the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

Tomlin appeases the media with a buzzword.

After two weeks of disappointments on offense, Steelers HC Mike Tomlin did not hold back in his weekly press conference ahead of Week 3’s showdown against the Las Vegas Raiders.

“We have to get our mojo back, we have to get that mojo we had in the preseason, playing fast and fluid with confidence. Individually and collectively, we’ve lost that, to be blunt,” Tomlin said ahead of Week 3.

Brooke Pryor of ESPN followed up on that comment following a revitalized offensive outing against the Raiders, asking if he thinks one game is enough to say they’ve got it back. Tomlin’s response wasn’t what you might expect, though.

“I’ll be really transparent with you. I didn’t mean it last week when I said it. You guys asked me the question repeatedly in a bunch of different ways, and I’ve given you the same answer. So sometimes, I’ll just give you a colorful answer with a word like ‘mojo’ just so you guys can run with it, and we can all move on with our day.”

“I don’t subscribe to ‘mojo’ or intangible-like things, all of that BS. We’ve just got to work harder. We’ve got to put together better plans. The guys have to understand those plans and make subsequent plays,” Tomlin closed out.

So, there it is. No “mojo” for Mike Tomlin — just a buzzword to dangle in front of the media.

Are you buying it? Or is it a lot easier for Coach Tomlin to say he “didn’t mean it” after a bounce-back performance? Join our Behind The Steel Curtain community and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

If you think the Steelers’ offensive play calling looked wildly different in Week 3, that’s because it was

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers huddles with teammates during the preseason game against the Buffalo Bills at Acrisure Stadium on August 19, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

WARNING: Conspiracy theory alert. Proceed with caution.

Much to the joy of Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the offense finally showed some signs of life in Week 3’s Sunday Night Football showdown against the Raiders. After chants of “Fire [Matt] Canada!” echoed throughout Acrisure Stadium (well, as much as an open-air stadium can force an echo), fans demanded change.

And change, they got.

In Weeks 1 and 2, the offense posted 239 and 255 total net yards, respectively — both ranking bottom five in net yardage output for a single game dating back to 2021, when Matt Canada was promoted to offensive coordinator.

Watching the game, it was clear that there was a different vibe to the offense, top to bottom. The change wasn’t just in how second-year QB Kenny Pickett executed the plays, however. A big part of that was the type of plays that were being called.

Analyzing the Steelers’ playcalling data courtesy of PFF, you’ll note a significant uptick in run-pass options (RPO), play-action passes, and bootlegs in Week 3, compared to the previous two weeks. Dating back to 2022 (Canada’s first time calling for a quarterback other than Ben Roethlisberger), the Steelers called RPOs on 9.4% of plays, play action on 16.6% of plays, and bootlegs on 5.8% of plays.

It wasn’t just the play calling that was different, either. The team also introduced two new offensive personnel groupings. After strictly deploying 11, 12 and 13-man personnel groupings in Weeks 1 and 2, there were a couple of more wrinkles installed in this week’s game plan. The Steelers deployed 02 personnel (0 RBs, 2 TEs, 3 WRs) and 23 personnel (2 RBs, 3 TEs, 0 WRs) both for the first time this season, combining for three of the 62 offensive plays on the week.

It’s not the first time we’ve ever seen these personnel groupings under Canada, but it is worth pointing out how rarely we’ve seen them. In the 48 games Canada has coached as the offensive coordinator, we’ve seen 02 personnel deployed in just 11 total instances prior to Week 3 of the 2023 season and 23 personnel deployed in just 12 instances.

Heading into Week 3, there were reports that the Steelers wanted Canada to “take on a more prominent role” working with Pickett. There was no shortage of speculation as to what that might actually mean for Canada, but some of that speculation stated it might be a bit of a ruse on the Steelers part. Could this be their way of quietly transitioning Canada back toward a role as a quarterbacks coach?

The timing of that news, followed by a pretty significant shift in the type of offensive play calling is enough to make you wonder — was Matt Canada really calling the plays at all in Week 3? Hmm…

Join our Behind The Steel Curtain community, and speculate with us in the comments!

Ben Roethlisberger, Jerome Bettis say Patriots ‘cheated’ in 2004 AFC Championship

Ben Roethlisberger and Jerome Bettis stand together on the 10th tee box during the first round of the PGA TOUR Champions Constellation FURYK & FRIENDS presented by Circle K at Timuquana Country Club on October 7, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

The two linked up this week on Ben Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin’ podcast.

They may be in retirement, but Steelers’ duo of QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Jerome Bettis is still alive and well. Bettis joined Roethlisberger’s podcast, “Footbahlin’ with Ben Roethlisberger,” this week to discuss their time together on the field, how Bettis came to be known as “The Bus” and more.

Most interesting, perhaps, was the discussion on their 2004 AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. Laughing, Roethlisberger said, “To be fair, the Patriots cheated.”

“For sure they did!” Bettis agreed. “It’s not even a question in my mind.”

Bettis went on to discuss a specific instance where the offensive coordinator motioned for a counter play, and the Patriots called a timeout that looked all too suspicious.

“They had our signs, and they called a timeout to get them ready for that play because they knew it was coming,” Bettis said.

Sign stealing has been a hotly contested topic in recent years, though mostly in regards to baseball and the Astros’ 2017 World Series win. Under what circumstances would sign stealing be considered “cheating”? Does it depend on how the signs are identified? What if they’re identified by simply watching the tape and not via the use of spies, drones, or other various types of trickery?

Join our BTSC community and let us know in the comments!

Watch the full episode of Ben Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin’ Podcast with special guest Jerome Bettis here.