I don’t know who is more excited about Matt Canada being a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coaching staff—his former player, Anthony McFarland, or the team’s fans, who already want him to be their offensive coordinator, if not simply so that Randy Fichtner wouldn’t be.
While Steelers fans are still learning about who Canada is, however, McFarland has the background, and his love for the man is not artificial. He glowed about how much their time together at Maryland meant to him, even for just one season, during the NFL Scouting Combine, months before the draft.
“Matt Canada is one high-level coach”, he told reporters in speaking to the media yesterday. “Actually one of my favorite coaches I ever really had. He left a big, big, big impact on me when he left Maryland. He showed that he cared, not just for us on the field, but he showed that he cared for us, and for me”.
“Just talking about me specifically, off the field, always checking up on me, making sure I’m doing the right things, telling me right from wrong, even on the field, coaching me hard”, he went on. “I like that. When a coach coaches you hard like Matt Canada does, it means that he wants to get you better”.
As I said, McFarland and Canada only had one season together, in 2018, while the former was a redshirt freshman. Canada signed on to be the offensive coordinator for the Terrapins, but he ended up serving as interim head coach amid tragic circumstances, a story I will write further one day.
Often the stories you hear most about players who love their position coaches entail a man who takes a vested interest not just in the player, but in the person, and to hear McFarland tell it, that very much sounds like the type of person Canada is going to be.
“It’s about the way he coaches. He just wants you to get better”, he said. “He’s a hell of a coach, I feel like. Guys in the room want to gravitate towards him, his attitude towards the game, and the way he speaks, it’s positive. He always makes you think positive, and that’s what I love about Matt Canada. I’m super excited just to be around him and pick his brain because that guy knows a lot”.
As the quarterbacks coach, Canada isn’t going to be directly coaching McFarland, though even Mike Tomlin has already said that he is going to have his opportunities to contribute in other facets of the offense, and that he doesn’t care where good ideas come from.
There is no law restricting coaches from other positions fraternizing with players they don’t coach. Frankly, we see that all the time on the sideline. Darryl Drake was a guy who had no problem speaking to the whole team, for example. Based on McFarland’s testimonial, maybe Canada will have a similarly broad impact on the locker room.