The Pittsburgh Steelers announced some surprising news on Tuesday morning when the team’s official Twitter account posted that Matt Canada had been relieved from his duties as the team’s offensive coordinator. He had served in that role since 2021, Ben Roethlisberger’s final season, and was the quarterback coach for one season in 2020 before being promoted. This is Pittsburgh’s first in-season firing of a coordinator since at least 1941. The Steelers are known for stability, patience, and loyalty, but at some point a breaking point was reached.
Mike Florio and Chris Simms reacted to the news on their show Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports.
“It was clear that this thing was off the rails for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though they’re 6-4, it was off the rails, and it was starting to wear on the defense,” Florio said. “How much longer can the defense hold when the offense isn’t doing jack didly squat.”
The Steelers’ overall game plan this season has been to play very conservative on offense, not make the big mistake, and hope the defense puts the offense in position to score. They relied upon an ultra-conservative approach to keep them in games and then Kenny Pickett and the offense found ways to win in the fourth quarter. With the defense as banged up as it is, that philosophy was starting to not feel viable.
On Sunday, we saw what happens when the offense can’t put things together in the waning minutes of the game and the defense, down several key players, couldn’t fend off a game-winning field goal drive by the Cleveland Browns. Frustrations were running high both on the field and in the locker room after the game. Najee Harris had some choice words after the 13-10 loss and Diontae Johnson reportedly had to be restrained by teammate Broderick Jones on the sideline during the game as he was getting in the face of a member of the coaching staff.
“There was a moment during the game on Sunday where Diontae Johnson had to be physically removed by Broderick Jones from a member of the coaching staff,” Florio continued. “Mike Tomlin had to get involved. I’m sorry, when you disturb dad while he’s working, you got a problem. And it may be as simple as Tomlin saying to Canada, you gotta control your guys.”
There may be something to that. Just three weeks ago, the Steelers made the move to bring Canada down from the coaching box to the sideline and the subsequent two games yielded improved results, but it all came crashing down in a 77 net passing-yard performance by Kenny Pickett and the offense on Sunday. Canada’s move to the sideline was supposed to help with the disconnect between players, their emotions, and their play caller. Even still, things came apart at the seams on Sunday.
It is unclear how much this change will affect the schematics on a game-by-game basis moving forward with RB coach Eddie Faulkner and QB coach Mike Sullivan taking over, but perhaps it can provide a spark in the locker room. No more excuses.