It was just two days ago that the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner would not be returning for 2021. According to both Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero (both of NFL Network), the Steelers have already decided to promote quarterbacks coach Matt Canada to be their new offensive coordinator.
Sidenote on Matt Canada: He was one of the college coaches that NFL coaches consulted with and relied on to learn the new trends. I’m always surprised we don’t see more of this: Instead of consulting, just hire the guy. https://t.co/resOlaAJ2D
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 16, 2021
The fact that Canada was one of the leading contenders for the Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator job may have prompted the Steelers to make a quick decision (as opposed to conducting a thorough search outside the organization).
Relatively recent changes to the Rooney Rule may make things a little awkward for the Steelers, though, not to mention any other potential candidates. That’s because teams are now supposed to interview at least one minority candidate for any open coordinator job.
The NFL is immediately instituting changes to the Rooney Rule, requiring clubs interview at least 2 external minority candidates for head coach openings and 1 minority candidate for any coordinator job, I’m told. That's on top of two resolutions up for vote @JimTrotter_NFL noted.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 18, 2020
Assuming that Canada is indeed promoted, the Steelers still have to replace offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett and defensive backs coach Tom Bradley, both of whom were let go along with Fichtner.
Meanwhile, senior defensive assistant/secondary coach Teryl Austin could be departing as well. He has already interviewed with Tennessee for its vacant defensive coordinator position.
Matt Canada was originally hired by the Steelers as quarterbacks coach on January 15, 2020. His hiring was motivated by the need to further develop backup QB Mason Rudolph (not to mention third-stringer Joshua Dobbs and fourth-stringer Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges), but also by the desire to bring creative, new ideas to the team’s offense.
Matt Canada’s Coaching Career
Canada brings nearly two decades of experience as a QB coach and offensive coordinator, having worked at Indiana, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, LSU, North Carolina State, the University of Pittsburgh, Butler, and most recently, as the interim head coach at the University of Maryland in 2018.
One of the quarterbacks developed by Canada is former New England Patriots third-round pick and current Indianapolis Colts signal caller Jacoby Brissett, who threw for 43 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions over a two-year period under Canada.
In Canada’s one season with the Pitt Panthers (2016), his offense averaged a school-record 42 points per game, which ranked No. 10 in the nation. Pitt Quarterback Nathan Peterman, who threw for 27 TDs and 7 interceptions that year, went on to be a fifth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Canada was a finalist for the Broyles Award—given to college football’s top assistant coach—in 2016.
Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh’s Future at QB
Mike Tomlin’s decision to go with Canada makes sense on a number of levels. First and foremost, he provides a certain amount of continuity for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, assuming Big Ben decides to come back for another (final?) season. But if Roethlisberger retires or is released, the Steelers have a coordinator who has extensive experience developing young quarterbacks, which would be particularly helpful if the team utilizes a first-round pick on a QB in the next year or two. Either way, Canada ought to bring fresh ideas and concepts to Pittsburgh’s offense, which clearly needs a further infusion of creative vision.
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