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2021 Wide Receiver Line Shifts

Steeler Nation

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Change. Motion. Inconsistent formations. Line shifts. These are effective ways a football offense keeps the opposing defense off balance. Coincidentally, these characteristics are what offensive coordinator Matt Canada brings to the new Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive scheme. We’ve already had some exposure to Canada’s “Motion Magic”, but as we study the current OTA’s, we are gaining more personnel insight as to what to expect in 2021.






Today was JuJu Smith-Schuster’s turn at a press conference. After fielding a plethora of questions surrounding his eventful offseason in free agency, he started talking about what he’s seen in the offense thus far. Coming off a 2020 season of playing more in the inside slot position, Smith-Schuster explained he is looking to play on the outside as well. This is understandable, as he is playing on a “prove it” contract, he wants to show his versatility at the receiver position. With this being said, it begs the question, where can we expect the other receivers to land on the field?

Coach Canada has been known to steadily rotate players at skill positions throughout games. So much so, this may replicate hockey lines and shifts. This bodes well for the 2021 Steelers’ receiving corps, with talent in both the inside and outside of the box. In his press conference, Smith-Schuster explained Ray-Ray McCloud is the best slot receiver behind him. We were able to see a glimmer of this in 2020, albeit on a sweep play, against the Philadelphia Eagles on a 58-yard sprint resulting in a first-and-goal for the offense. Adding McCloud into the receiver rotation is a major lift, as the depth continues with James Washington who is also in his “prove it” year. Washington fell under the radar in 2020, but was still productive in big moments and adds that depth at the slot position in addition to the outside. The Steelers’ wide receiver corps is perfect for Canada’s “line offense” going into Training Camp.






On offense in 2021, look for frequent personnel changes to keep the defense off balance. In my opinion, this is going to mimic a hockey offense with steady doses of Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool on the outside with Smith-Schuster, Washington, and McCloud rotating through the slot. I do not think there will be a “singular guy” at wide receiver, and we’ll see the ball spread out each week. Like we see in hockey, there are going to be favorite “receiver lines” and they are going to make for some exciting football.



Who do you think is going to be involved in the most productive wide receiver line in 2021? Let us know in the comments below!

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slashsteel

Well-known member
Good writeup Ben. Hopefully whoever is rotating in can hold onto the ball. But we drafted two good hands people who should help and hopeful Johnson and Ebron has worked on their concentration and hands this off-season.
 

Drink IRON City

Contributor whining about a tag
I like the idea of change and rotation to a point. Hard to get a rythym going if all you are doing is subbing. I'm pretty sure Matt will sub at the right times to coincide to keeping the "D" off balance and the "O" producing.


Thanks for the insight BEN but HOCKEY is a whole different sport.





Salute the nation
 

Badcat

Well-known member
Lets not forget that McFarland worked with Canada at Maryland, and even with limited reps early on, I can see him being worked into packages as a weapon out of the backfield.
 

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Litos

Well-known member
Clayspool's capacity of stretching the field should be a must in almost every situation except probably 3rd and short, there DJs quickness and Washington hands should fight for a spot next to Juju and our brand new blocking TE that doesn't drop anything flying near him.
 

Steelmann

Well-known member
Lets not forget that McFarland worked with Canada at Maryland, and even with limited reps early on, I can see him being worked into packages as a weapon out of the backfield.
Maybe I haven’t given him enough of a chance. Or the play calling / execution was shit. But I just don’t see it with him. He just goes down so easy. He would have been history.Samuels too. I hope I’m wrong.
 

Badcat

Well-known member
Maybe I haven’t given him enough of a chance. Or the play calling / execution was shit. But I just don’t see it with him. He just goes down so easy. He would have been history.Samuels too. I hope I’m wrong.
That's why I wrote that as most people may not have thought about that history they had. McFarland had a great year under Canada, and perhaps Fichtner just didn't have him in the right positions to be successful. Just something to look for this upcoming season.
 

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madinsomniac

Well-known member
Lets not forget that McFarland worked with Canada at Maryland, and even with limited reps early on, I can see him being worked into packages as a weapon out of the backfield.
Isn’t it weird that he had Conner at Pitt, McFarland at Maryland, Samuels at NC state, and Watt at Wisconsin ? I mean conner left but thats still a lot of nfl rbs he handled that coincidentally play for us
 

Badcat

Well-known member
Lets not forget that McFarland worked with Canada at Maryland, and even with limited reps early on, I can see him being worked into packages as a weapon out of the backfield.
Isn’t it weird that he had Conner at Pitt, McFarland at Maryland, Samuels at NC state, and Watt at Wisconsin ? I mean conner left but thats still a lot of nfl rbs he handled that coincidentally play for us
Yeah, it's pretty crazy.
 

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