Mike Tomlin is not a stranger to hiring coaches to his staff who have never coached at the NFL level before. He’s not even unfamiliar to bringing in coaches who have had some time off. The Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, for example, pulled Richard Mann out of retirement to coach his wide receivers in 2013, a job he held for five years before retiring a second time.
In Matt Canada, Tomlin has tapped into both, as the team’s new quarterbacks coach not only is coming from having been exclusively a college-level coach—where he has also had coordinating and even head coaching experience—but also from being out of the game in a professional capacity during the 2018 season. But that doesn’t mean he was idle, by any means, as he told reporters earlier today.
While he made sure to make great use of that time to be with his family, he said that he heeded the words of his former coach at Indiana, as his widow told him. “She had the best advice I got”, he said. “She said when Coach went from Colorado to Northern, he had a year off and he looked it as kind of a halftime, to prepare for the second half”.
Canada’s second half is now with the Steelers in the NFL, getting ready to work with a Hall of Fame quarterback and a young group behind him. And he comes to Pittsburgh having nurtured his football mind along the way.
“We certainly made time to enjoy life, as I mentioned, but I was fortunate to be at two NFL camps for a little bit of time, to learn and watch, because it was something I was interested in”, he said. “I also went to a few colleges that had me counsel. I stayed very active in that. I would watch college film in the morning and NFL film in the afternoon. I kind of had a set routine”.
While at many stints along the way, from Wisconsin to NC State to Pittsburgh to LSU and Maryland, Canada garnered a reputation for his creativity in his offensive gameplans, and the Steelers are hoping that he can bring some of that along with him. That may include some ideas that are new even to him.
“Obviously, when you’re not installing an offense and getting guys ready and gameplanning every week, the ability to sit back and say, ‘that’s a really good idea, that’s a better way to do that’”, he told reporters about his studies during his year outside of coaching.
“I really thought it was a great year of growth for me, as a coach, as a person, and all things. And now to get a chance to coach in this league and be in this organization and learn from so many other great guys, I feel really fortunate about that, and I’m just going to continue to enjoy it and learn”.
Canada is the first new quarterbacks coach that the Steelers have had in a decade, as Randy Fichtner held that post from 2010 through 2019. Over the past two years, he served dual roles after having also been promoted to offensive coordinator, but now they’ve lightened his load and taken the positional coaching responsibilities onto the shoulders of one of the newest faces on the staff.