Steelers Offense Faces Uncertainty After Matt Canada’s Firing

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to part ways with their offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who was hired in January 2022 to replace Randy Fichtner. The move came after the Steelers suffered a humiliating 41-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, dropping their record to 5-5-1 and putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy.

The Steelers offense has been struggling all season, ranking 23rd in points per game (20.5), 25th in yards per game (326.5), and 29th in third-down conversion rate (33.3%). The team has also been plagued by turnovers, penalties, and injuries, especially to their offensive line and wide receivers.

Canada, who was previously the quarterbacks coach for the Steelers in 2021, was expected to bring a more creative and diverse scheme to the offense, incorporating elements of motion, misdirection, and play-action. However, his system did not seem to mesh well with the personnel and the style of veteran quarterback Kenny Pickett, who has been under constant pressure and has thrown 12 interceptions and just 11 touchdowns in 16 games in the NFL.

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Who will take over the offense?

The Steelers have not announced a replacement for Canada yet, but head coach Mike Tomlin said he will evaluate the options internally and externally. One possible candidate is quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan, who has 16 years of NFL coaching experience and has worked with Tomlin in Tampa Bay. Sullivan was the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants in 2016 and 2017, when they ranked 25th and 31st in points per game, respectively.

Another potential option is senior offensive assistant Adrian Klemm, who was promoted to run game coordinator in February 2022. Klemm has been with the Steelers since 2019 and has been in charge of developing the young and inexperienced offensive line. Klemm has a background in college coaching, having served as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator at UCLA from 2012 to 2016.

A third possibility is tight end coach Alfredo Roberts, who joined the Steelers in 2020 after spending three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. Roberts has also coached running backs and wide receivers in his 18-year NFL career and has worked with Tomlin in Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Roberts was the tight ends coach for the Indianapolis Colts in 2014 and 2015, when they ranked sixth and 24th in points per game, respectively.

How will the offense change?

It is hard to predict how the offense will change under a new coordinator, as it will depend on the philosophy, the scheme, and the personnel of the new play-caller. However, some general trends can be expected based on the performance and the preferences of the current players and coaches.

One likely change is a reduction in the use of jet sweeps, which have been a staple of Canada’s offense but have not been very effective for the Steelers. According to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers have run 37 jet sweeps this season, the most in the NFL, but have averaged only 3.8 yards per play, the second-lowest in the league. The Steelers may also run less play-action, which has not been a strength of Pickett, who has completed 58.3% of his passes with four touchdowns and six interceptions when using play-action, compared to 66.7% with seven touchdowns and six interceptions without play-action.

Another possible change is an increase in the involvement of the running game, which has been inconsistent and underutilized this season. The Steelers have the 28th-ranked rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 89.5 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry. Rookie running back Najee Harris, who was drafted in the first round to boost the ground game, has shown flashes of brilliance but has not been given enough opportunities to establish a rhythm. Harris has averaged 18.5 carries per game, which ranks ninth in the league, but has only had 20 or more carries in four games, and has not had more than 15 carries in the last three games.

A third potential change is a simplification of the offense, which has been criticized for being too complex and confusing for the players. Several Steelers have expressed frustration and confusion with the offense, such as wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who said he did not know his role in the offense before he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5, and tight end Eric Ebron, who said he did not understand why he was not targeted more in the passing game. A simpler offense may help the players execute better and avoid mental errors, such as false starts, illegal formations, and miscommunications.

What are the challenges and opportunities?

The Steeler’s offense faces a daunting challenge in the remaining six games of the season, as they try to adjust to a new coordinator and a new system while competing for a playoff spot in a tight AFC race. The Steelers are currently the eighth seed in the AFC, trailing the Los Angeles Chargers by half a game for the final wild-card spot. The Steelers have a tough schedule ahead, facing four teams with winning records, including the Baltimore Ravens twice, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Tennessee Titans.

However, the Steelers offense also has an opportunity to improve and prove themselves under a new coordinator and a new system. The Steelers have a talented and diverse group of skill players, such as Harris, wide receivers Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington, and tight end Pat Freiermuth, who have shown flashes of potential but have not been utilized to their full extent. The Steelers also have a veteran leader and a two-time Super Bowl champion in Pickett, who has the experience and the resilience to overcome adversity and lead his team to victory.

The Steeler’s offense has a lot of work to do and a lot of questions to answer in the coming weeks, but they also have a lot of talent and a lot of pride to show. The firing of Matt Canada may be a wake-up call or a turning point for the offense, depending on how they respond and how they perform under a new coordinator and a new system.

By Kane Wilson

Kane Wilson, founder of this news website, is a seasoned news editor renowned for his analytical skills and meticulous approach to storytelling. His journey in journalism began as a local reporter, and he quickly climbed the ranks due to his talent for unearthing compelling stories. Kane completed his Master’s degree in Media Studies from Northwestern University and spent several years in broadcast journalism prior to co-founding this platform. His dedication to delivering unbiased news and ability to present complex issues in an easily digestible format make him an influential voice in the industry.

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