When it comes to using play-action within an offensive scheme, there is perhaps no bigger advocate of this idea than Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
In essence, creating deception and eventual mismatches against opposing defenses is at the very core of utilizing play-action. For Canada, the premise of using play-action is also to create greater opportunities to use the run and eventually dictate what an opposing defense does during the course of a game.
If there is one quarterback that has benefited from using play-action, it is newly-acquired quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Throughout his career, Trubisky has struggled with efficiency on dropback throws without play-action. In the instances when he has been able to incorporate play-action, Trubisky has been incredibly efficient.
What Do The Number Say?
With the Chicago Bears, Trubisky saw a tremendous increase in his completion percentage over the last four weeks of the 2020 season. How successful? Well, at one point, Trubisky held a completion percentage of 73.9%, with an average of 8.9 adjusted yards per attempt. At one point that season, he had the 11th-ranked EPA per dropback. In other words, he was producing at a top 5 level at one point during that season when play-action was being used.
With former Steelers Ben Roethlisberger this past season, Canada's offense saw little improvement from the 2020 season. Not only did Roethlisberger's passing yards and completion percentage decrease, but he also registered a career low of 6.2 yards per attempt. Much of this could be attributed to deficiencies in his offensive line and limitations in mobility. As a consequence, play-action was rarely utilized, resulting in predictable and somewhat rudimentary results.
Trubisky's mobility opens the door for an increase in play-action. Considering the documented success he has had under this scheme, Canada can open up his playbook and create an offense that is more dynamic and difficult for opposing defenses to diagnose. In all, the pairing of Trubisky and Canada could prove to be mutually beneficial for their respective careers.