The Pittsburgh Steelers’ future appears to be staring them in the face. The 2023 season should reveal quite a bit about who they are and what they have the potential to be in the near future. So much of that is tied to the success or failure of young quarterback Kenny Pickett. But it could just as easily be tied to offensive coordinator Matt Canada, at least this year.
Entering his third year on the job and his second with Pickett under center, Canada now has the tools around him to succeed. At least on paper, we should after this season be left with no excuses as to his success or failure. If he can’t make things work with what they have now, if the offense still continues to do what it needs to do, then we can most likely safely lay the blame at his feet.
Aside from giving me the opportunity to make reference to South Park, the headline speaks to the pulse of the fan base. Even amid the optimism about the potential for a new identity on offense, it is often tempered by comments about the fact that it’s still Canada calling the plays.
That’s why this particular season is so important, because it should spell out his future, or more specifically whether he has one with the Steelers. Formerly recognized as a creative offensive mind at the college level, he now has the NFL experience and the NFL talent to run an offense that should prove whether or not his ideas are viable.
And if they’re not, then he has to go. To the best of our knowledge, he only remains under contract through the 2023 season, so this is a sink-or-swim year. The offense made some key strides in the second half of last season in its ability to extend drives and to run a balanced approach, but it still faltered where it mattered most: finding the end zone.
Now that wasn’t all on Canada, by any means, and I will be the first to say that he’s gotten a lot of blame for things he didn’t have much say in or had the ability to control. But we need to see the potential in this offense to be able to compete with the great offenses in this league. Period.
If we can’t go into a game facing Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs with at least some reasonable bit of confidence that the Steelers can put up 30-plus points if necessary, then the job is not done. And it may start with the coordinator, but it may not end there.
As always, there are questions still about whether or not they indeed have the right personnel. How good is this offensive line going to be? How successfully will they be able to run the ball? How much of a jump can George Pickens make in his second season? How will they balance personnel groupings?
Yet still, by season’s end, if this is still an offense averaging 18-20 points per game, without strong indications of a significant amount of improvement on the immediate horizon, it’s going to be hard not to lay the blame at Canada’s feet. Because there have always been excuses before. What excuses will there be in January? Hopefully we won’t need them.