Steelers Insider on Matt Canada’s Offense: ‘Coaches Were Upset, Players Were Upset’

Ben Roethlisberger with Matt Canada

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (left) and offensive coordinator Matt Canada (right) of the Pittsburgh Steelers during training camp on July 28, 2021.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes that Mitch Trubisky is likely to be the Week 1 starter for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers, with Kenny Pickett serving as the backup and Mason Rudolph being a game-day scratch. But in Dulac’s mind, it may not matter who plays quarterback if the offense is not “orchestrated better from the top,” as he put it, during his recent appearance on The Vinny & Haynie Show on 105.7 FM The Fan in Baltimore.

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Dulac offered a scathing indictment of Pittsburgh’s 2021 offense, which was produced by first-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada and scored just 34 touchdowns, seventh-fewest in the league.

“What we saw last year — especially the last eight games — was really downright dreadful,” he began, before reminding observers that seven of the team’s nine wins came after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger essentially took matters into his own hands and orchestrated game winning drives using the hurry-up/two-minute offense.

“That was the reason why they were able to rescue some of those games at the end,” elaborated Dulac. “Otherwise, what we saw offensively was there was a lack of flow, continuity, disjointed. Coaches were upset, players were upset with formations that were being called, which were out of sync with everything else that was going on.”

To Be Fair to Matt Canada …

On the other hand, what Steelers fans saw in 2021 may have been a far cry from what Canada hoped to do on offense. In June 2021, he indicated that he was going to be largely deferential to his 39-year-old quarterback, saying, “We’re going to do what Ben wants to do and how he wants to do it.”

In addition to being saddled with a quarterback on his last legs, the Steelers started rookies at the two most pivotal positions on the offensive line, with Dan Moore Jr. and Kendrick Green at left tackle and center, respectively.

But with younger, more mobile quarterbacks and several new offensive linemen — not to mention a new offensive line coach (Pat Meyer) and assistant offensive line coach (Isaac Williams) — Canada’s offense ought to be on full display in 2022, giving him the chance to validate Mike Tomlin’s decision to bring him back for another season.

“For me it’s a big question mark, because Matt Canada has to prove he can be an offensive coordinator in the NFL, and so far we haven’t seen it,” concluded Dulac, who has seemingly been more outspoken of late, having questioned the team’s decision to draft quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first round, for example.

Dulac also made news recently when he said it’s “very, very safe to assume” that there’s bad blood between Roethlisberger and the organization about how his career ended, with former Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster subsequently offering an explanation for what might be at issue.

Canada Was Promoted From Quarterbacks Coach to Offensive Coordinator in Early ’21

Recall that Canada was hired as Pittsburgh’s quarterback’s coach on January 15, 2020, coming over from the college game, where he spent two decades as a QB coach and offensive coordinator, having developed a reputation as an innovator, with a scheme heavy on shifts, motions and play-action.

Canada was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in January 2021, replacing the much-maligned Randy Fichtner. Canada’s promotion came shortly after it was announced that he was interviewing for the offensive coordinator job with the Miami Dolphins, suggesting that Tomlin was loath to lose him to another club.

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