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Former NFL GM Believes If Kenny Pickett Does Well In 2022, Matt Canada Will Be Retained

The Kenny Pickett Era for the Pittsburgh Steelers has begun, and with it comes a lot of excitement and anticipation for not only the hometown favorite quarterback, but for the future prospects of the Steelers’ organization in the NFL.

After 18 seasons of Ben Roethlisberger at the helm, the Steelers are in a bit of a transition under center, which has led to Pickett. Replacing veteran free agent signee Mitch Trubisky at halftime in the Week 4 loss to the New York Jets, Pickett showed some promise, leading two scoring drives that he finished off with his legs, becoming the first rookie quarterback to have two rushing touchdowns in his NFL debut.

While his insertion into the lineup provided great spark for not only the players, but the fans in attendance Sunday at Acrisure Stadium, he did have three turnovers, the second of which led to a scoring drive for the Jets as he went through some rookie mistakes. Still, expectations remain rather high for the former Pitt Panthers star and Heisman Trophy finalist.

For former NFL GM Doug Whaley, who spent time in the Steelers front office before landing with the Buffalo Bills as GM from 2013-2017, there comes a catch with Pickett and his potential success, at least as a rookie. Appearing on the 93.7 The Fan Morning Show Wednesday morning, Whaley stated that if Pickett plays well as expected and shows serious promise in his rookie season, that almost certainly ensures that much maligned second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada will be retained.

Hear that sound just now? That’s a lot of Steelers fans throwing their phones or slamming closed their laptops reading this.

“Everybody wants Kenny [Pickett] to do great, and if he does, that means [Matt] Canada is coming back,” Whaley said Wednesday, according to audio via 93.7 The Fan. 

Granted, that’s all speculation from Whaley, as he is not part of the decision making in Pittsburgh and is not part of the front office at all. However, there’s some logic to that speculation from Whaley.

If Pickett were to play well down the stretch and show real signs of promise, the Steelers organization is not going to all of a sudden stunt his growth by changing coordinators after his rookie season. That would be a disservice to not only Pickett, but the organization overall.

That might not be what people want to hear after 21 games with Matt Canada as the offensive coordinator and the overall struggles the Steelers have had on the offensive side of the football, but it could wind up being spot on from Whaley.

“I’m looking at it from an organizational standpoint. If you have Kenny Pickett, say he goes .500 the rest of the way, especially with this daunting next four-game stretch, why would you want to take that offensive coordinator away from him and give him another offensive coordinator in his second year when you ned that jump to be very big from Year One to Year Two? And now you’re going to stunt it?” Whaley said. “That’s my question. It’s a conundrum.”

At face value, it’s a bit of a conundrum as Canada has done nothing to warrant a third season as the Steelers offensive coordinator, at least at the moment. That said, so much has already been invested in Pickett as a first round quarterback and the intended future franchise quarterback of the Steelers.

Were he to play well the rest of the season and show real signs of promise in Canada’s system, there’s no way the Steelers would — or even should — make that change at coordinator. For better or worse, Pickett and Canada are tied at the hip, at least for now.

“We’re going to actually see if this is Canada’s guy. He recruited him, this is his guy. There’s no more excuses for Canada,” Whaley stated. 

Maybe things get better down the stretch for the Steelers offense under Canada with the switch to Pickett. Maybe they don’t. Fact of the matter is, time is running out for Canada, especially when it comes to excuses.

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