Offensive coordinator Matt Canada will take a perspective into the regular season, one gleaned from an August to remember that’s destined to be forgotten in September, if it hasn’t been already.
“I’m not minimizing it,” Canada maintained regarding a preseason in which the Steelers went 3-0, the first-team offense scored five touchdowns on five possessions and quarterback Kenny Pickett emerged with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. “You would much rather be feeling like this than, ‘Oh, we coulda, shoulda.’
“There’s a good vibe with our guys, a confidence, the maturity of some of our players, Year One to Year Two, Year Two to Year Three, whatever that is. We’re in a great spot, but until we go out and play we won’t know.”
The Steelers will play their first game that matters when they host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.
That’ll also be Pickett’s first game as offensive captain.
“I think, obviously, just Kenny becoming the No. 1 quarterback helps that a little bit,” Canada said. “A year ago right now we were in a different situation.
“I’ve known Kenny a long time. I don’t think Kenny’s changed a lot, who Kenny is. His role has become more defined. Certainly, the confidence he has in the system and the confidence he has with the players, some of that is just familiarity all the way around. His leadership has always been what it’s been. But I think being with the guys for a year and being in the system for a year and being clearly the starting quarterback, I think all those things go to it.
“But certainly well deserved and not a surprise.”
Pickett will earn his keep in the regular season by doing what he did in the preseason, distribute the ball where it was supposed to go based on the defensive coverage.
The rest will be up to the array of weapons surrounding him.
“We’ve gotta be good enough that, if they decide that they want to stop (wide receiver) Diontae (Johnson), that (wide receiver) George (Pickens) and (wide receiver) Allen (Robinson II) and (tight end) Pat (Freiermuth), talk about (tight end/fullback) Connor (Heyward) and (tight end) Darnell (Washington), whoever those guys are, that they are still capable, which we believe they are.
“However that would go, is it Diontae? Is it George? Whoever they’re trying to stop, we’ve gotta be good enough to have those (other) guys make those plays. And great faith that Kenny’s gonna put it in the right spot to do that.”
If it works out as intended, the preseason can yet be remembered as having provided a snapshot of what the offense will look like against San Francisco and beyond.
“Our offense is what it is,” Canada said. “Each week you’re gonna do a little bit different things. We’re gonna just try to find the best matchup week to week. I hope that’s a snapshot. I hope we score all the time, that would be great.
“We’re really excited about where we are, excited about how hard our players have worked since going back to Phase One and Phase Two (of the offseason program). I think our guys have come in and really accepted a challenge of making a huge jump as an offensive unit. I think they deserve credit for that, through (training) camp, the work in camp, the plays we made in camp, obviously, the small sample size in preseason games.
“We’ll see how we go but we’re excited about going out Sunday and seeing how it looks.”
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