Steelers Make Final Decision on OC Matt Canada’s Future: Report

Matt Canada

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers have reportedly made a final decision on Matt Canada for the 2023 season.

The Matt Canada saga continued on January 18. The latest report from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette now has Canada returning as Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator in 2023.

“The Steelers have no plans to replace offensive coordinator Matt Canada and he is expected to return to Mike Tomlin’s coaching staff in 2023,” wrote The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac.

“Despite a public outcry to fire him and numerous rumors about his coaching status, Canada will return for his third season as offensive coordinator — something, apparently, that was never really in doubt after the offense continued to show signs of improvement late in the season.”

The Steelers have changed offensive coordinators three times under Mike Tomlin. But in all three situations, the teams didn’t renew the coordinator’s contract.

So technically, Bruce Arians, Todd Haley and Randy Fichtner were not fired. The last time the Steelers fired an offensive coordinator was Kevin Gilbride in 2000.

Canada has one year remaining on his contract.

Other Steelers reporters confirmed Dulac’s report that Canada would return for the 2023 season.

Steelers Coaching Decisions on Hold?

The speculation has run rampant on Canada’s future since the conclusion of Pittsburgh’s season on January 8. Players such as running back Najee Harris addressed the possibility of Canada returning after the season finale clinched the team’s 19th straight non-losing season.

Over the last week and a half, both predictions of the Steelers replacing Canada and reports that Canada will return have surfaced in the media. Rumors of specific candidates such as former Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich grew legs as well, especially when sports radio host Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan suggested on Twitter that Tomlin may be waiting for Leftwich to be fired before making a decision on Canada.

On January 17, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly reported that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had yet to really dive into his offseason work because he “has been tending to a personal matter.”

That gave Steelers fan, who, as Dulac wrote, have been frustrated with Canada for quite some time, renewed hope a change could still be coming to the Steelers offensive coordinator role this offseason.

Dulac’s report, though, suggests Tomlin has bought into the offensive improvement the Steelers underwent during the second half of the season.

In their final nine games, the Steelers posted 146 rushing yards and 4.2 yards per carry. During that stretch, they scored more than 23 points four times.

Over the first eight games of 2022, the Steelers averaged 94.9 rushing yards and 4.0 yards per carry. They also never scored more than 23 points in the first half of the year.

Canada Reportedly Set to Return Amid Rumors

As much as Steelers fans will probably disagree, the decision of whether or not to fire Canada is probably harder than it seems. In addition to the improved running game, rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett learned to take care of the football and led the Steelers to a couple last-minute game-winning drives during the second half of the season.

Pickett threw 5 touchdowns versus only 1 interception in his final eight starts. In his first five games, Pickett had 2 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

Keeping Canada also prevents Pickett from needing to learn a new offense during his first full offseason.

But an argument can also be made that the Steelers offense still wasn’t very dynamic under Canada even after the improvement. The Steelers failed to score more than 30 points in every game during 2022.

One could judge Canada’s passing game on a curve because of the rookie signal caller. But in 35 total games as Pittsburgh offensive coordinator, the Steelers scored more than 30 points just once.

No matter who’s started at quarterback (there have been four under Canada) for Pittsburgh, the team hasn’t scored at a high rate with Canada calling plays.

The Steelers averaged 18.1 points per game in 2022. Only six teams scored fewer.

In two years under Canada, the Steelers offense didn’t finish better than 21st in points scored or 23rd in total yards during a season.

Despite the lack of scoring, Tomlin appears set to not break tradition and fire Canada before his contract is set to expire.

Read More