This offseason has posed a great challenge to every NFL coach that is novel, for numerous reasons. While they have experienced a lockout before, in this case, even the training camp process will be much different—and there won’t be a preseason to evaluate, either.
Stepping into a new team as a coach is yet another challenge. Especially those who have never even coached at the NFL level before. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ new quarterbacks coach, Matt Canada, is one of those coaches who is new to the big league, after spending a long time coaching at the college level.
Pittsburgh went out and hired him after two years of Randy Fichtner serving a dual role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. It was easy the first year with Ben Roethlisberger playing almost every snap. 2019 was a nightmare, with Roethlisberger missing most of the season. He had to spend the year juggling between two young quarterbacks who never threw a pass in an NFL game before.
While the plan, as with every other year, is for Roethlisberger to take every snap of the season, Canada is now on board to handle the day-to-day in the quarterback room, but Fichtner acknowledged that he wasn’t brought in just to teach throwing mechanics while speaking to reporters earlier today.
Fichtner, who had long been the quarterbacks coach before this move was made, said that Canada brings “years of experience” to the table, “just in years of coaching quarterbacks, years of being around offensive football, years of being a playcaller, or experiences being a head coach. It’s more knowledge in the room. It’s one more opportunity to throw ideas around”.
He also acknowledged the adversity faced last season as a position coach that required him to prepare one second-year starter with no experience who was in the lineup for a sudden injury while also juggling the maturation of a rookie undrafted free agent to be his backup.
“Last year was a little unique, just in general. We started the process a couple years ago in keeping continuity with Ben, that I would stay as the quarterback coach and coordinate”, he said. “It’s a big job. I believe that it’s a fun job. It keeps communication at a premium. But I also know that when it comes to ideas, when it comes to thoughts, and when it comes to things that you can bring to the table every week, and what he can bring to the table that might be different than I would in that room is going to be really fun to see and develop. And I’m really excited about it.”
Last year, coaching assistant Matt Symmes spent a lot of time working with the quarterbacks, and they even took to calling him their quarterbacks coach. While Fichtner technically was, now they have a dedicated position coach—for Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, for the first time in their professional careers.