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2023 Offseason Questions: How Much Can Offense Grow Under Canada?

The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead, they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answering, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: How much can the offense grow in 2023 under Matt Canada?

The Steelers organization (somewhat) formally confirmed yesterday that they will be retaining Matt Canada as offensive coordinator for the 2023 season, this coming directly from the head of the team’s PR department, Burt Lauten.

It has predictably not been very well received by many Steelers fans who were hoping to see the team make a change on the coaching staff this offseason. Canada has been criticized more than most offensive coordinators of the past, with more scrutiny about his play-calling and game plans than has been typical coming from national media outlets.

First hired as quarterbacks coach in 2020, he took over as offensive coordinator a year later. The offense averaged 20.2 points per game in 2021 with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm for the final time, ranked 23rd in yards. They only averaged 18.1 points per game in 2022, also finishing 23rd in yards again.

But there were a lot of changes in the offense from one year to the next, and we saw some signs of improvement over the course of the 2022 season. That came particularly with respect to the offense’s ability to extend drives and to protect the football, but there remain significant deficiencies in red-zone performance and explosive-play capability.

And so with the knowledge that Canada will be here for another year, the question that we have to ask ourselves today is, how much can the offense realistically grow over the course of the 2023 season without a change at the coordinator position?

Canada himself is still relatively new to the role of offensive coordinator in the NFL, so one can argue that he still has room to grow in his own role. This will only be his third season in the job. But there’s no question that he has a lot to prove this year, or else he’ll undoubtedly be looking for work in 2024.

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