Steelers OC: Come from behind talk misconstrued

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada expressed frustration Thursday with the CBS broadcast commentary from Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans, saying his words from a pregame conversation were “misconstrued.”

“One thing Matt Canada told us himself yesterday at their hotel: They’re not quite built to come back from big leads,” commentator Spero Dedes said during the broadcast when the Steelers trailed 13-0 in the second quarter. “And so the way they start games [is] so critical [with a] young quarterback.”

Canada, though, asserted that Dedes took his words out of context, and he was talking specifically about the offensive differences in the loss to the San Francisco 49ers and the win against the Las Vegas Raiders.

“The conversation was why we ran more runs and play-action against the Raiders versus the opening game,” Canada told Pittsburgh media. “And why was that? As you look at a stat sheet, did it look that way? … You’re not going to stick to your running plan and the plan of running play-action when you’re down three scores. All we care about here is winning. So the conversation was, at that point, the plan wasn’t built to do that. Obviously, I believe we were going to win until the end. I kept throwing it to the point of our lineman had to do what, 46 dropbacks? Kenny [Pickett] had to do that. At no point was that conversation meant in that regard.”

Canada continued: “I certainly believe he knew that. And obviously it was taken wrong, if not. But of all the things we want to talk about and say, at no point do I doubt our players doubt where we are, doubt we can come back. No doubts. I was literally saying any football person would tell you you’re down three scores with, what’s that, 18 minutes to go, you got to start going faster. You got to start being in a two-minute mode. You have to score more points. That’s how that came out, and certainly everybody on the offense is well aware of that.”

The Steelers (2-2) have trailed in every game this season, but in the win against the Raiders, they trailed only for about a minute of the first quarter. In that win, quarterback Kenny Pickett completed 6 of 8 play-action passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. Against the 49ers, Pickett attempted fewer than half the number of play-action passes, going 3-for-3. Pickett attempted five play-action passes in a tight game against the Browns, and in the loss to the Texans, Pickett went 3-for-4 for 8 yards on play-action, used on just 18.5% of his dropbacks.

“I just gave you exactly how the conversation went,” Canada said, “Why didn’t we run the ball statistically more in the opener, compared to the stats against the Raiders, play-action and running. Those situations are more of a conversation I would certainly believe. I don’t think he was trying to take me off the record, just maybe it came out differently. I don’t know. I can’t respond to that for him. And I’m not trying to start anything with that. I’m just saying that’s exactly how it happened.”

Canada was also unequivocal in saying he believes in his team. “I firmly believe we’re built to come from behind,” Canada said. “I firmly believe with 3 minutes still in the third quarter, we were still going to win the game.

“This is obviously talking all the way back to the opener. Again, we didn’t score enough points. We didn’t win the game. That’s the bottom line. But that was all that was said. I mean, I’ve stood up here for every time and said whatever it is, I’m not placing any blame anywhere but me. But I’ve said every time I believe 1000% in our players and our coaches. If I’m not been clear about that, I think I have been clear about that.”

On Wednesday, Pickett was also asked about Dedes’ remark on Canada’s assessment of the offense. He, too, delivered a message similar to Canada’s.

“We got to be designed to put points up and win games, that’s kind of what I care about,” Pickett said. “I don’t care if we’re behind or we’re ahead or whatever the situation may be. It’s our job to put you know, more points on the board than the other team does. So, that’s what our goal and design needs to be.

“I think any game we’re in, we have a chance to win no matter what.”

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