One of the biggest moves that the Pittsburgh Steelers made was to make a change at the offensive coordinator position, allowing Randy Fichtner’s contract to expire and promoting Matt Canada into that role after having only served one year as the team’s quarterback’s coach.
Fichtner has a long history with head coach Mike Tomlin dating back to before their NFL coaching careers, and was a part of his original staff in 2007. Canada, on the other hand, comes from a very different branch of thinking as far as the offense goes.
But the reality is that the roster is tailored to running an offense in the Todd Haley/Fichtner coaching tree and its antecedents, the Steelers having preferred by and large not to make major shifts in philosophy.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, general manager Kevin Colbert acknowledged that they may not have all the pieces in place for Canada to do everything that he wants, right away, and that will have to develop over the course of time, but that his and Tomlin’s focus will be on maximizing each player’s skill set within that.
“Coach and I talked about that, because I’ve asked Coach Tomlin, with Matt taking over, will we be looking at different players differently?”, he said. “Coach is always going to talk about what we have and how we can adapt what they do to what we currently have.
“Maybe as we move into the future, further down the road, and we’re deciding on a wide receiver type or a running back type or a quarterback type or an offensive lineman type, we may shift as we evolve and learn what Coach Canada’s offense is about”, he went on.
Canada was not in coaching during the 2019 season prior to the Steelers hiring him, but before that, he had numerous stints in Maryland, Pittsburgh, LSU, NC State, and elsewhere, often having short tenures but usually having a positive impact. He has even coached a number of players on the current roster, most recently 2020 fourth-round running back Anthony McFarland.
“We’ve seen it work in the college ranks, and we saw the types of players that he used in different roles, so can we adjust to that as we go on? Yes”, Colbert said. “Will we adjust immediately? No. I know Coach Tomlin will do what our players can do the best under Coach Canada’s offense and the schematics that he puts together, and over time, I think, we can adjust it. But right out of the gate, it’s hard to make those types of adjustments”.
Even under the best of circumstances, it takes time to rebuild a roster to accommodate a new system. When you have numerous free agents of high importance you’re likely to lose and minimal resources to replace them, it should be taken as a given that it might take a period of years as the personnel you select naturally adjusts.