Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t had many different quarterbacks coaches since he entered the NFL. Mark Whipple was the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach from the time he was drafted in 2004 through 2006. From 2007 to 2009, it was Ken Anderson. Since 2010 and up to this season, he had Randy Fichtner, who developed into a close friend and confidante.
Now he has a new face, though one not entirely new to him, with the Steelers hiring Matt Canada to take over the quarterbacks coach role as Fichtner focuses on serving as the offensive coordinator. While Canada is new to the NFL, and is not new to Pittsburgh, as he was the Panthers’ offensive coordinator in 2016, during which time he developed relationships with the Steelers.
But he has never experienced a professional quarterback room, let alone worked with a quarterback, let alone one who has been in the NFL for what is seemingly closing in on two decades. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he acknowledged that while he is an instructor, he is also partly a student this year.
“Ben obviously has way more experience than I can ever imagine having in the NFL, so I’m listening”, he told reporters. “We’ve talked reads, concepts, and those kinds of things, how he’s done it, what he’s done. I obviously am learning from he and Randy, and if there’s anything, another way to see something with him, or more importantly with the younger guys, I’m just trying to take that and go”.
While his gig with the Steelers is the first he has held in a professional league, Canada’s coaching resume goes back nearly three decades, beginning as a graduate assistant at Indiana in 1994, and he became a quarterbacks coach (and offensive coordinator) by 1997 with Butler.
“Football is football in a sense, but there is a different game”, he admitted. “I did have this aspiration last year when I took the year off, and I did study. I wasn’t sure where I was gonna go, so I would kind of spend the morning studying college and the afternoon studying the NFL”.
“The game is different. There are certain parts that are different that I have to try to learn, and I certainly have a long way to go, and that’s why I’m excited where I’m at”, the newcomer added. “I’m in a position to learn, to assist Randy in any way that I can, to assist the quarterbacks in any way I can, and just be part of the group”.
While Canada is the quarterbacks coach, and Fichtner is the offensive coordinator, expect the entire process to be something of a collaborative effort. For the Steelers, it doesn’t matter how many cooks are in the kitchen as long as the meal comes out tasting fine. And as Canada continues to learn and grow into his role, he may take on greater and greater responsibility.