As the Pittsburgh Steelers season ended, many people wondered if much-maligned offensive coordinator Matt Canada would retain his job. After leading the Steelers to only 18.1 points per game, calls to can Canada were loud. One person, though, who isn’t against keeping Canada is NFL guru Greg Cosell.
Cosell, who has been breaking down film for decades, believes keeping Canada isn’t a bad thing because while his concepts need improving, consistency for a young quarterback is extremely important.
“Maybe they’ll be working on that [the concepts] in the offseason because obviously they’re keeping Matt Canada,” Cosell said to Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller on 93.7 the Fan. “They wanted to keep continuity, and I have no problem with the idea of keeping continuity because I’m not sure people understand what it’s like for a quarterback to start over. If you start from scratch then you’re starting from scratch with Kenny Pickett, then he would be having in a sense another rookie year. And you don’t really want to do that.”
Cosell admits that Canada’s concepts need improving, but that is something that certainly can happen. With a year of working with Pickett and seeing what other team’s are running offensively, Canada can tweak his playbook by adding what works from other teams. The NFL is a copy-cat league, smart teams copy what works and use it. There is no rule stopping Canada and the Steelers from doing this.
What Cosell was concerned about with firing Canada is that it would set back Pickett’s development. Pickett will be 25 years old by the time training camp starts, and Cosell says it takes three years for quarterbacks to truly adjust to the NFL. Cosell says he hears the noise for firing Canada this offseason but believes it would be a negative to Pickett. Instead, he thinks the continuity of having Canada as his offensive coordinator for the past least one more season will be helpful for Pickett.
“But now we know Kenny Pickett goes into his second season with continuity in terms of what he has to know. Now he can learn much more of the nuances of the offense, at the same time learning more about NFL defense. Most coaches will tell you it takes a good three years for an NFL quarterback to learn his offense and in relation to the defenses in the league. So at least there’s continuity. Whether people think that’s good or bad, I can’t speak to that, but there’ll at least be continuity.”
There are certainly reasons to fire Canada, but by doing it you hurt Pickett. And to be fair to Canada, Pickett developed this season. He looked much better in Week 17 than he did in Week Eight. He began to get more adjusted to Canada’s offense, and while he wasn’t putting up gaudy numbers he was doing enough to win. Pickett won all but one game he played the full 60 minutes in after the bye week.
In fact, many Steelers players even voiced their support for Canada at the end of the season, including offensive captain Najee Harris. With so much support from a young offense in the locker room, and winning seven of their last nine, firing Canada might not have been the best thing to do. If the Steelers were more effective in the red zone, the calls to fire Canada would be a lot quieter. And for the Steelers to do better in the red zone, that primarily falls on the shoulders of their quarterback and his development.
Pickett’s development is easily the most important thing right now to the Steelers. The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and if sacking Canada was going to hurt Pickett’s development, then maybe the Steelers made the right decision to retain him for one more season. It’s possible the Steelers’ offense takes off next season. Maybe it stinks again, we will have to wait and see. But, whatever the case will be, all eyes will be on Canada as he gets one more chance to right the ship offensively.