The Pittsburgh Steelers confirmed through team spokesperson Burt Lauten yesterday that they are retaining the services of Matt Canada through the 2023 season. This came off the heels of a report from The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly suggesting that some decisions had been put on hold while head coach Mike Tomlin attended to some personal matters.
Originally hired as quarterbacks coach in 2020, Canada was promoted to offensive coordinator a year later after the team elected not to renew Randy Fichtner’s contract. But there had been some uncertainty as to Canada’s contract status during the transition.
Traditionally, the Steelers are believed to hire position coaches to two-year contracts and coordinators to three-year deals. Canada worked through one year as a position coach before the promotion to coordinator, an uncommon circumstance, so it wasn’t clear how that worked out.
According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, writing about the team’s decision to retain Canada, the Steelers signed him to a one-year contract extension in 2022. She doesn’t specify when that deal was reached, but it does mean that previously his contract only ran through the 2022 season and that at some point along the way roughly in the past year they added another season.
That seems to imply, if we can assume that he originally signed a two-year contract when hired as quarterbacks coach in 2020, that they only signed him to a new two-year contract when he became coordinator initially, as though his first season as a position coach counted toward his first year.
His first season as coordinator was not exactly a smashing success, although he did not have the greatest tools to work with, including a quarterback on his last legs in Ben Roethlisberger, an offensive line with two rookies, a rookie running back, a rookie tight end, a journey free agent right guard replacing a Pro Bowler, and on and on.
They finished 21st in the league in points and 23rd in the league in yards, 10th in giveaways, 15th in passing yards, 29th in rushing yards, and in the bottom third in per-drive efficiency metrics. A year later, they scored fewer points, but ranked the same in yardage. They rushed more, ranking 16th, but finished 24th in passing yardage, yet fourth in giveaways.
The big difference is in the per-drive efficiency numbers. They averaged the most plays per drive in the league, and the second-longest average drive length, though they ranked only 17th in yards per drive. Where they really need to improve is in points per drive, where they ranked 23rd, averaging 1.68 points per drive—slightly less than a year earlier.
Canada had a rookie quarterback on his hands in 2022 who wasn’t even put into the starting lineup until week four. He dealt with an injured starting running back, two new offensive linemen, a rookie wide receiver, etc.
The Steelers believe that he can help take this offense to its height in the very near future. Much of that will be tied to the development of Kenny Pickett and George Pickens as they head into year two. Their decision to retain Canada has been widely criticized both by fans and the media alike, but then again, they’ve never been an organization that listens to the critics.
But they never did announce that Canada signed an extension.