Matt Canada remains employeed as the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But a new rumor has surfaced that Canada may not stay in the position much longer.
Sports radio host Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan floated a rumor on Twitter on January 16 that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin could be waiting to see if Byron Leftwich becomes available this offseason before firing Canada.
Leftwich is currently the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This isn’t the first time Leftwich’s name has surfaced as a possible replacement for Canada. On December 29, SB Nation’s Michael Beck listed Leftwich as one of three potential fits to become Steelers offensive coordinator in the event the team fired Canada.
Leftwich played quarterback for the Steelers in 2008 and then again from 2010-12.
Canada’s Future With Steelers Unknown
Fillipponi floated his rumor about the Steelers potentially waiting on Leftwich just three days after reporting there’s a 99.9% chance that Canada would return for 2023.
Obviously, the 0.1% chance Canada doesn’t return left open the possibility of someone such as Leftwich becoming available once the Buccaneers end their season, but Fillipponi did not list that as one of the potential scenarios where Canada wouldn’t return.
Steelers fans have been criticizing Canada practically since the day the Steelers promoted him to offensive coordinator after the 2020 season. Canada served as quarterbacks coach before that.
In two seasons as Steelers offensive coordinator, 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.
But the team’s offense did improve during the second half of the season, and rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett would benefit from remaining in the same offensive system for his second year.
Whether that improvement and potential continuity keeps Canada in his role as Pittsburgh offensive coordinator remains to be seen.
Leftwich is Steelers’ Top Choice to Replace Canada?
Tomlin has a reputation for prioritizing coaching candidates possessing previous ties to the organization. Leftwich checks that box with his four seasons spent as a player in Pittsburgh.
Leftwich lost the only start he made in black and gold during 2012, but he played well in relief of Ben Roethlisberger, especially in 2008. He entered games when Roethlisberger left with injuries and led the Steelers to victories against Washington and Cleveland.
For those efforts, the following season, the Buccaneers signed Leftwich to start behind center.
In both places, Leftwich served under Bruce Arians, who was once Tomlin’s offensive coordinator from 2007-11.
The Buccaneers offense was ranked in the Top 10 in yards and Top 3 in points scored during each of Leftwich’s first three years. But in 2022, Tampa Bay finished 15th in yards and 25th in points scored.
Like Canada, Leftwich faces an uncertain future in his role as offensive coordinator. The Tampa Bay Times began reporting on Leftwich potentially coaching for his job as early as November.
In Pittsburgh, there clearly hasn’t been a definitive answer of whether Canada will be back in 2023. Perhaps Tomlin hasn’t even made up his mind yet.
It will be interesting to see if anything inside the Steelers organization changes should Leftwich become available.