We looked far and wide, high and low, for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ contingency on this year’s Pro Day trail. It was our most successful year, identifying personnel at nearly 90 Pro Days. We saw Mike Tomlin, Omar Khan, Teryl Austin, positional coaches, and a ton of scouts.
The one person we didn’t see? Offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
In all our searching, we didn’t come across him at one workout. Is it possible he was at a location and we missed him? Absolutely. I’m the first to admit our list is not 100% complete. But it’s pretty darn close. And being an offensive coordinator, a guy like Canada often gets reported when he shows up somewhere and he’s a fairly recognizable face. Over the past two draft cycles, we saw Canada eight total times. Three times in 2021 (Clemson, Alabama, and Texas A&M) and five in 2022 as part of the Steelers’ quarterback tour (Pitt, Liberty, Ole Miss, Cincinnati, and North Carolina). Often, he joined Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert on these trips. This year, we didn’t see him.
So what does it mean? The catchy answer is to say Canada is being frozen out of the process. That he isn’t someone Pittsburgh wants involved. For a guy so disliked by the fanbase, it’s easy to assume that and move on. But I don’t take it to that level. More simply, it’s a sign of the Steelers’ focus and interest on defense and offensive line.
You can draw pretty clear inferences based on the team’s pre-draft activity and its draft plan, which is logical enough. The Steelers don’t play games. Their focus has primarily been on defense and continuing to improve the offensive line. It’s why DC Teryl Austin had four stops this pre-draft process and why OL Coach Pat Meyer topped them all with five. Overall, the defensive coordinator/positional coaches made 12 stops. The offensive ones? Only 10, exactly half coming from Meyer.
The skill position coaches? They were hardly seen. Eddie Faulkner and Frisman Jackson were only at one, and that was right next door at Pitt. TE Coach Alfredo Roberts visited two places, both prior to Zach Gentry re-signing. Given Canada’s more pass-game duties (Meyer handles more of the run game) it’s not so much a sign of the team being anti-Canada as it is them not beefing up at quarterback, receiver, running back, and tight end as they have the past two drafts that were heavily offensive-slanted. Of course, they still could make investments there, I expect them to draft a wide receiver and a quarterback can’t be ruled out in the late rounds. But Pittsburgh has done its homework on those guys through pre-draft visits, not even attending the Ole Miss Pro Day but bringing in WR Jonathan Mingo for a visit instead of sending scouts and coaches on location.
That’s how I interpret Canada’s absence. Just another sign of where the Steelers are headed in the draft and less so of an indictment of Canada. If they really distrusted the man that much, they would’ve fired him. He’s still here. But the Steelers will need to draft, develop, and perform well if Canada wants a crack at the Pro Day trail in 2024.