Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers who spent the season booing offensive coordinator Matt Canada and calling for his firing may want to start saving their voices now, because they'll be doing a lot of the same booing next season.
The Steelers announced on Wednesday that Canada will be returning to head coach Mike Tomlin's staff in 2023.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was the first to report the news.
Just a few months ago, things looked pretty bleak for Canada's future with the Steelers. They were 3-7 through Week 11, had scored at least 20 points only twice, and at least 30 just once. But starting Week 12, things changed. The Steelers went 6-1 with a four-game winning streak to end the season — though it wasn't quite the miraculous turnaround it seemed to be. The Steelers managed to score more than 20 points just three more times, and faced only one playoff team over those final seven games: the Baltimore Ravens, who were a shadow of themselves without QB Lamar Jackson under center.
So why keep an offensive coordinator if the offense he planned wasn't all that successful, even when the team was winning? The improvement Canada and the offense showed in the final weeks — meager as it was — may have helped head coach Mike Tomlin make that decision. Here's what Tomlin said about Canada after the final game of the season.
“I thought he got better just like our team got better,” Tomlin said via The Athletic. “I’m not going to speculate about him or anyone as I stand here today. … I’m just not there. We have some work to do, but largely I thought he got better in the ways that we got better, so it was encouraging.”
Another factor could be rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett. Not only could ditching Canada affect Pickett negatively (he'd have to learn a new offense and develop a relationship with a new OC), he's known Canada for years and recently sang his praises on his teammate Cameron Heyward's podcast, "Not Just Football."
“He picks my brain on what I like and how I like it,” Pickett said. “Throughout the game, [he’s] asking me to rank plays. He likes to see the game from the quarterback’s point of view. He keeps things different. We really caught stride after that bye week, and we figured out what it takes to win — what that recipe looks like, so we can continue to grow as a team and grow as an offense.”
Tomlin is smart. If the Steelers want Pickett to be their next franchise QB, best to keep him happy and not mess with his development, right?