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‘Coach Is The Smartest Football Guy I’ve Ever Been Around’: Matt Canada A Believer In Mike Tomlin’s Plan

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada is routinely bombarded by questions, whether he is in front of the gathered media or not, but he only has to answer them when he is. And often, well, he kind of doesn’t. I mean, he says words, sometimes quite a lot of them, but they don’t always add up to an answer to the question asked.

Fortunately for him, or so he believes, he has the benefit of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s wisdom to lean upon. Tomlin plucked him out from football purgatory after his tumultuous 2018 season as interim head coach with the Maryland Terrapins, giving him his first job in the NFL in 2020 following a year out of football, and promoted him to offensive coordinator in 2021. He has yet to prove that his offense works at this level. But he always believes in the plan, and in Tomlin’s plan for the team as a whole.

“Complementary football is a big deal”, he said, via transcript provided by the team. “Coach is the smartest football guy I’ve ever been around, and we have a plan every week”. ‘Coach’ is, of course, coach Tomlin in this case.

The question he was responding to was about playing with tempo, to which he responded that he doesn’t believe it’s conducive to winning to try to play with tempo on offense all the time. “I don’t think you can go out and be fast the whole game”.

I think we can conclude that Tomlin agrees with that, since all of Tomlin’s offenses have seemingly played under that philosophy no matter how often a player even of the stature of former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked about how smooth the offense runs in the no-huddle, hurry-up mode.

Tomlin played wide receiver in college, but the vast majority of his coaching tree, at least until he got to the head coach level, came on the defensive side of the ball, and I certainly think that, generally, his philosophy does skew in that direction, more mindful of limiting opponent scoring.

It should be said that Tomlin has garnered a very unfair reputation amongst his critics—sometimes even including prominent alumni of the organization—of not being an ‘Xs and Os guy’, which couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s how he came up in the league, through the Xs and Os. Ask Hall of Fame safety John Lynch if he’s capable of getting into the details.

Tomlin is a football junkie, and undoubtedly is very intelligent. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. It matters if you win, and Tomlin hasn’t done enough winning for anybody’s satisfaction, not even the mythological Steelers fan who supposedly is merely satisfied with non-losing seasons—fans who, I have to stress, don’t actually exist.

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