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Steelers Legend Merril Hoge Joins Ben Roethlisberger On Podcast and Rips Incompetent Matt Canada 2022 Offense

YouTube / Channel Seven

Steelers Legend Merril Hoge Joins Ben Roethlisberger On Podcast and Rips Incompetent Matt Canada 2022 Offense

The current state of the Pittsburgh Steelers was front and center on EP. 4 of the Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger podcast when it was released on Monday. Roethlisberger was joined by co-host Spencer T’eo and fellow Steelers legend, Merril Hoge. Roethlisberger and Hoge discussed the Steelers home opener after the pair attended the game with his wife Ashley and their children. It was the first Pittsburgh Steelers game that Roethlisberger has attended since his retirement following the 2021 season. You can watch the entire episode on Channel Seven via YouTube here.

Steelers Merril Hoge

7 Jan 1990: Fullback Merril Hoge of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball during a game against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos won the game 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim de Frisco /Allsport

Hoge played for the Steelers from 1987-1993 and was a tough as nails fullback for the black and gold. He played in four playoff games for the Steelers and played a huge role in the final playoff victory of Chuck Noll’s storied career. He had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in the 1989 playoffs in a victory against the Houston Oilers in the Wild Card round and a surprisingly close 24-23 loss against the eventual AFC champion, Denver Broncos.

Hoge and Roethlisberger discussed the current state of the Steelers offense, and the former ESPN commentator likened the current offense to the Steelers of the last two seasons of Noll’s career under offensive coordinator, Joe Walton. Walton had coordinated the Washington offense and had been the head coach of the New York Jets before Noll brought him in and Hoge recalls the inflexibility of Walton when he arrived:

“Chuck hired him, and he brought the smurf system in,” Hoge said. “We didn’t have a smurf in the building. I was a smurf, I got anointed a smurf. My point is we were running a system that we didn’t fit. He was committed that his system worked because it had won a Super Bowl. This is one of those experiences in football where I realized the real good coaches, they adjust to their personnel.”

Steelers Canada

Steelers offensive coordinator, Matt Canada. | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The two former Steelers are good friends, and this was a not so veiled shot at Matt Canada. One of the criticisms last season of Canada’s offense is that he tailored very little of it to Roethlisberger’s strengths. Incredibly, it seems like the offense ran more RPO’s last season with an aging quarterback who is no threat to run than they have this season. The current version of the offense would benefit greatly from Mitch Trubisky using his legs to loosen up opposing defenses.

“This is the only running game that I have been confused,” Hoge continues. “I don’t know that he threatens the box. He adds more people to the box, and he puts more people in bad spots in the running game. Some of his motions they bring people in, and that jet stuff isn’t affecting anybody. You’re pulling someone from the backend and now you’ve got more people in there than you even wanted. Schematically, there is some stuff that doesn’t make sense.”

Hoge and Tim Worley were a formidable running back duo in 1989 and were the foundation of a playoff offense. They were not explosive, but the team suffered when they went away from what they were good at until Bill Cowher replaced Noll in 1992 and brought in Ron Erhardt who did tailor the offense to the strengths of the personnel. Football was a very different game back then, but it is important that schemes fit the players you have if you want to be effective offensively.

“There are two things I think you have to do offensively if you’re going to have a shot to be a champion,” Hoge concludes. “You are going to have to control the tempo of the game. The best way to do that is to have a good running game and you have to be explosive. You have to have explosive elements. Like the Cincinnati game, if you took away the gadgets and misdirection, half the offense is gone. You know gadgets and misdirection’s are usually wrinkles, not the foundation of an offense. You don’t see pro concepts.”

Steelers Mitch Trubisky and Matt Canada

Jordan Schofield / Steeler Nation (Twitter JSKO_Photo)

The former Steelers fullback was a film analyst guru at ESPN and NBC and now hosts Film Review segments for Steelers.com. He has been making a living doing deep dives into offenses for nearly two decades and is one of the most respected analysts in football. He has come to the conclusion, along with many Steelers fans, that Canada is running a spread college offense that is designed to take advantage of weaker college players who cannot set or get to the edge.


The Steelers Should Absolutely Consider Firing OC Matt Canada After Week 2 Loss


We truly don’t know how much Roethlisberger disregarded the play-calling in the second half of games last year, but it occurred in the seven comeback victories without exception. At some point, he may reveal how much he improvised, but the former Steelers quarterback is unlikely to discuss it until Canada moves on from his current position. What is clear is that the early lack of RPO’s in the offensive game plan is puzzling. Could those plays have been the compromises that Roethlisberger was willing to make with Canada last season and he never actually had them in his planned offense?

Steelers Pickett

Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers

If Canada is unwilling to be flexible and identify what his current group can actually accomplish on the football field and only call his plays relying on scheme, the Steelers may have to move on sooner rather than later. What is clear is that as long as Canada is being inflexible with his play-calling, Kenny Pickett should not get near the football field. Mitch Trubisky was brought in to be a bridge quarterback. What we didn’t know is it was a bridge from a bad plan to a new offensive coordinator. Unfortunately for fans and Trubisky, that may be a bridge he builds, but does not get to cross.

 

What do you think, Steeler Nation? Is Hoge right about Canada’s poor performance schematically? Please comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.

I have been rooting for the Steelers actively since 1975. I love the Black and Gold and support them through thick and thin. I am a Navy Veteran, living in Jacksonville, FL and never miss a chance to go to the neutral site games here in Jacksonville. I am new to the Steeler Nation website, but I love discussing Steelers Past, Present and Future.

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Nick

    September 20, 2022 at 2:17 pm

    I agree Canada scheme is for college

  2. Bryant Thomas

    September 20, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    O line is a bust!Where are the 30-40 yard passes.
    It’s the same playback as last year and everyone knows it.Make the change Now!

  3. Larry

    September 20, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    I agree 100%. Very few passes are to a receiver in stride. They all are facing the O-line with backs to the goal line. This allows easy containment for the defense. Canada is not a pro offensive coordinator. Steelers hav had this problem since he took over. Ben had to improvise because he wanted to win.

  4. Pingback: Ben Roethlisberger Says Steelers' Mitch Trubisky Was "Playing Within The System"; Doesn't "Blame" QB1 For Sunday's Brutal Loss - SteelerNation.com

  5. Lynda Moreno

    September 20, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    This was the best analysis of Canada’s offense.
    Totally on target. And I agree not to let Kenny on the field until he is gone. I hope the Steeler organization realizes that Canada is not a good match for this team.

  6. Joseph Gebis

    September 20, 2022 at 7:28 pm

    Mr Rooney should fire The OC and let Flore running the Offence until they find someone

  7. Roberta J Campbell

    September 20, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    The bigger problem we have here is Tomlin is going to let his ego stand in the wy of making the right decisions. Matt needs to go. Mitch is playing in feR of failing instead of playing fearless. I’d have Flores take over the offense for now he was doing a good job turning Miami around. If Mitch doesn’t get out of his head and play good ball put Kenny in. Otherwise this is going to be a lost season. It already is a loss of a game they should have won.

  8. Jeremy Blaine Smart

    September 20, 2022 at 7:49 pm

    You hit the nail directly on the head. Tomlin’s need to show he can do it without Ben is going to be the smudge on an other wise perfect H.O.F. resume. He allowed a mediocre O.C. restrict an all time great qb to show they could do it there way. That didn’t work out very well for that douche in New England what made him think he could pull it off is beyond me. I believe whole heartedly we would be 2-0 right now if 7 still took snaps. I mean he bailed that horrible offense out multiple times last season by taking over play calls late in the game and it’s for sure trubisky doesn’t possess that ability. Everyone wanted ben gone and the wish came true mow an entire generation of Steelers fans are gonna find out how it feels to have no qb to lead you.

  9. Slickvic nope

    September 20, 2022 at 8:35 pm

    OC stinks! I would get rid of him. But Tomlin to scare to fire him. Change Qb. To, he stinks!🤢🤢🤮

  10. [email protected]

    September 20, 2022 at 9:02 pm

    #firetomlin

  11. Bob Leeper

    September 20, 2022 at 9:30 pm

    100 percent correct ! This dink and dunk offense needs to go back to highschool!

  12. Fredric Cuthbertson

    September 20, 2022 at 10:56 pm

    What’s happened to Pickens? No activity…I agree .Canada needs to go. Get the ball downfield

  13. Sullas

    September 20, 2022 at 11:23 pm

    Steelers legend Merrill Hodge? What along with Bryan Hinkle? Funny.

  14. William

    September 21, 2022 at 5:06 am

    We need to get read of Canada. I’m a die hard steelers fan but I can’t stand to watch another game as long as the offense plays this way. Mitch completely ignored the fact that pickens was wide open

  15. VegasDevil

    September 21, 2022 at 7:51 am

    Kenny Pickett would do better I this offense. MT just has no spark. Low energy Mitch.

  16. Don

    September 21, 2022 at 7:51 am

    Definitely a college style offense. At least get rid of O.C. then see if Mitch can do something, if not, on to Kenny P.

  17. Paul

    September 21, 2022 at 8:42 am

    Get rid of Canada, then Tomlin , rebuild O line. Hard to watch a weak Steelers offense. Tomlins time is up , everyone knows his playbook, SOS ! And Tomlin Sucks , mot even a championship game in a Decade ! Get this Bum out and a new Coach .
    Canada offense play calling horrible
    Im a 40 yr fan and we deserve much better

  18. Justafan

    September 21, 2022 at 9:03 am

    As a fan of the steelers and watching them last year. I was hoping that they were going to fire the OC because that scheme he is using is terrible. There know concept,space, motion, Rhythm to the game. I am hoping that Tomlin sees that it is time to move on from Canada before it to late.

  19. Rich Cannon

    September 21, 2022 at 9:21 am

    I live in Wisconsin and have been a Steelers fan since before the Steel Curtain. This organization has always been in or near the playoffs, look at the championships! Tomlin is well respected, but his hands are tied. Since Canada arrived on the seen, the players have been wasted with respect to their talent, Ben included. You can’t move forward toward a championship with Mitch or Canada. Play calling is just plan amateur, high school level. Before the season is a complete loss, change has to happen now

  20. David Craig

    September 21, 2022 at 10:00 am

    The war is won in the trenches and the Steeler’s first regular season game proved that which has been known for a long long time and that is if your defense can consistantly get to the quarterback and disrupt the offense’s tempo then opportunities will arise for turn overs and increase the inability of the offense to move the chains. Steelers need to draft hard working athletic adaptable offensive lineman starting with a center to increase their chances of winning in the NFL. Patriots are now smiling over their “Strange” 1st round pick because that guy certainly made an impact last Sunday by handling Heyward.

  21. Doug Fred

    September 21, 2022 at 11:16 am

    How are his hands tied? He i⁷ the Head Coach and owns responsibility for Canada’s performance. He can and should fire him and get someone capable onboard. A few years ago Harbaugh fired his Raven’s OC in the middle of the season. Leaders need to lead!

  22. John Loschiavo

    September 21, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    Ok after last season and Ben having to deal with this incompetent fool. We need to realize it’s not the players or playmakers. It’s coaching nad scheme. The sooner we get a new play caller and all the coaches on the same page the better. It’s early and we threw away a win. After jets it’s a 4 game gauntlet where it could get ugly fast. I couldn’t stand last year Ben still havin to dump off little screens and shuffles. If you can’t set up plays where Mitch is a weapon then why move forward wasting another year of this d. 1 play cost us that game and coaching was responsible first and foremost. How do you let a play go on with that uncovered gunner. Time out yell at someone and bench and put another guy in. But this return man gunner is responsible to recognize and call FC and get off field. He wanted to make a play vs old team and failed so he should be runnin laps all week. Go Steelers still time but it’s runnin out

  23. Kev

    September 21, 2022 at 2:36 pm

    It hurts to say it but I hope Cleveland embarrasses us on Prime Time. That will be only way to rid our team of the Canada stench

  24. maybeTROLLn

    September 21, 2022 at 2:51 pm

    Matt Canada’s offense is trash. 20 Games have proven that. Let’s keep throwing more routes way below the sticks on third down. Great recipe for success. Only garbage in that playbook.

  25. Rocco Ierino

    September 21, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    Your right Canada has to change or go we learned that in midget football adapt to your talent or you will not win

  26. Pap

    September 21, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    You are what the film days you are.
    Inept, out coached, junior varsity.
    Here is to next year.

  27. EJames58

    September 22, 2022 at 7:25 am

    The current OC does not appreciate the talent of our current Offensive roster. His play calling is anemic, predictable, uninspired and does not allow a QB to change a play to best use the players on the field. If not for our Defense we would be 0-2. With that said Mitch can run but under his scemes he has too many in the box which hampers Najee and his tight ends from getting down the field. Muuth got free on one play for a good gain against The Bengals. Since that play he has been covered so he needs to be used differently. Canada does not seem to understand how to change up his offense which is why we lost to a very smart Belichick who understands football and does not let his coordinators ruin His Game Plan. Tomlin needs to get tough or ask Mr. Rooney to help make the change.

  28. Pingback: Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin Not Even Considering Changes Despite Offensive Crisis In Week 3 - SteelerNation.com

  29. Pingback: Would The Steelers Offense Look The Exact Same In 2022 If Ben Roethlisberger Were Still QB1 In Matt Canada's System? - SteelerNation.com

  30. Eric

    September 24, 2022 at 12:55 pm

    Agree 100%. Canada’s tricky plays aren’t fooling anyone. OL needs upgraded. Defense looked great until we lost TJ, so we need more depth and a duel threat at LB. Mitch stares his receivers down and doesn’t see the whole field. First step is to replace Canada.

  31. Pingback: Former Steelers FB/RB Merril Hoge Believed Pittsburgh Would Never Draft Him In 1987 - SteelerNation.com

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