The Pittsburgh Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin elected not to make a change at offensive coordinator this offseason. That means Matt Canada will be returning for his third season on the job, and his second with 2022 first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had one season working with Canada as offensive coordinator, and one as quarterbacks coach the year before that. Much has been made about the assumptions of their relationship, some of which is true—largely some of the on-field things—but likely much of it not.
Roethlisberger has talked about it before, on his podcast. Tuesday he appeared on Mark Madden’s show on 105.9 The X, and Madden asked him what kind of faith he has in Canada as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.
“I like Matt. I have a great relationship with Matt”, he responded, not quite answering the question and instead going into their own relationship. “I would consider him a friend. I enjoyed the couple seasons we worked together. Did we have our differences in play calls or scheme things at times? Absolutely”, he offered.
“But tell me one player on any team, it doesn’t matter what position they played, there’s going to be something that maybe they don’t agree with their coach on. I’m sure there are plays that maybe I called in a no-huddle that Matt was like, ‘Ah, I wish you wouldn’t have done that’. That’s the nature of the beast. It wasn’t like I hated everything Matt Canada did. That’s not true. I think Matt has a great mind for the game”.
It’s hard to imagine that great mind getting more than one final chance in 2023 to make good on the potential this offense has. It is vital that he gets Pickett to take his game to the next level, and to continue to build a complementary running game.
Canada was actually a sought-after commodity for consultation by NFL teams in 2019, while he had a year out of football, because of his lengthy history in the college ranks. Teams believed that he would be able to provide insight about how the college game is translating to the big league. He brought in some of those elements to the Steelers, though Roethlisberger isn’t entirely sad to see some of them fall by the wayside.
“I know he likes some things that maybe I don’t and maybe Steeler fans don’t necessarily like, some of the jet sweeps it felt like he started to tone down, take some of that away late in the season”, he said. But he credited his former coach for what he did with a young offense in the second half of the 2022 season.
“Honestly, if you look at what he did from the beginning of the year with the new players, new quarterback, kind of a new line and the way that they struggled early but found a way to bounce back and finish extremely strong in this season. I think that he did a great job. And I told him that after the season”.
Canada’s contract is believed to run through the 2023 season. It was previously reported that the Steelers gave him a one-year contract extension last year to carry him through 2023. There probably hasn’t been a Steelers offensive coordinator more roundly criticized in the media than he has been for many years.