Steelers Coaching Decision Hits Snag: Report



Update: A report from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac, confirmed by the Steelers, indicated Matt Canada will be retained as offensive coordinator for the 2023 season.

Pittsburgh Steelers faithful have been waiting since the team’s November 6 Week 9 bye week for word that offensive coordinator Matt Canada was given the old heave-ho. Black Monday — an annual day when coaches around the NFL are fired — came and went without a peep from the Steelers organization.

Now they’ll have to wait longer.

As The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly reported, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is tending to a personal matter that will delay decisions on the coaching staff, should there be any.

“Decisions about the staff have been put on hold, according to two members of the organization who were not authorized to speak publicly, because head coach Mike Tomlin has been tending to a personal matter,” Kaboly wrote on January 17. “Player exit meetings, which are expected to begin this week, will be conducted virtually for those who have left town since the end of the season, one person said.”

In his final press conference of the 2022 season, Tomlin said he’s “just not there” yet in his final evaluation of Canada’s performance.

Should Steelers Matt Canada be Fired?

It was anticipated that Matt Canada would be relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ bye week after winning just two games in the first half of the season. Only it never happened.

The tricky part with handling whether Canada stays or goes is how the 2022 season ended. After starting 2-6, Pittsburgh finished the season 9-8 after winning seven of its last nine games post-bye.

Still, scoring remained an issue as the Steelers never scored more than one air touchdown in a game.

Per ESPN, in two seasons under Canada’s offensive direction, the team failed to finish better than 23rd in yards or 21st in points scored. During 2022, the Steelers averaged 18.1 points per game. Only six teams averaged fewer (L.A. Rams, Titans, New York Jets, Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos).

Despite not being able to put together consistent scoring drives, Pittsburgh managed to get more wins in the plus column as the season rolled on. As we all know, it’s not how you start but how you finish — which could be what ultimately saves Canada.

“I thought he got better, just like our team got better,” Tomlin said in a January 9 press conference. “I’m not going to speculate about him or anyone as I stand here today. Just as I mentioned, we fight, and that fight has come to an end. I’m just beginning the process of transitioning in terms of wrapping a bow around it and looking and seeing what 2023 looks like. I’m just not there. We’ve got some work to do. But largely, I thought he got better in the ways that we got better, so it was encouraging.

It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as the Pittsburgh Steelers organization has never been one to air dirty laundry in a press conference setting. While they were acutely aware after 16 seasons of Mike Tomlin at the helm, he restated as much to the Pittsburgh media.

“The nature and the details of those conversations and how that leads to decision-making will never be discussed in a forum like this.”

ESPN’s Brooke Pryor gets the feeling that Canada isn’t going anywhere.

“I don’t get the sense that there will be a change,” Pryor told 93.7 The Fan.

Canada is under contract through the 2023 season.

Steelers Candidates to Replace Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada

No one knows whether the Pittsburgh Steelers will keep Matt Canada around, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation of potential candidates.

Former Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich, offensive coordinator for Tom Brady‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is the most recent name to surface. After watching the Bucs get smeared by the Dallas Cowboys in the January 16 Super Wild Card playoff game, with the offense being held scoreless in the first half, that opinion may have changed. Brady’s offense managed just 14 points to Dallas’ 31, leaving many to wonder whether Leftwich heading up Pittsburgh’s offense is such a good idea anymore.

In four seasons under the direction of Leftwich, the Bucs hold a 44-win to 38-loss record. Tom Brady threw for 23,055 yards, including a career-high 5,316 in 2021, per Pro Football Reference, the year Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl.

After the Colts fired head coach Frank Reich on November 7, his name was immediately linked to the Steelers via the rumor mill.

Both coaches have done well with their respective quarterbacks. It would be refreshing for one of them to step in and offer a new perspective on Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Steelers offense.

Perhaps news will come down before the end of January. One thing is certain, Pittsburgh will have a replacement in line before they make any moves (or don’t) with Matt Canada. And that could take longer than Steelers fans would like to wait.