The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season ended much sooner than they intended, even when they were sitting at the bye with a 2-6 record. Their efforts over the past couple of months showed that they had every intention of continuing to play throughout January and into February.
Instead, they are holding their exit meetings this week and likely into next and the coaching staff and front office is beginning to strategize on what comes next. Perhaps there is no bigger decision this offseason is what to do at offensive coordinator. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has an interesting take on that, and one you’re not going to like.
“Why disrupt it if it’s starting to work with Kenny Pickett?”, he said on 93.7 The Fan, regarding the possibility of the team considering moving away from Matt Canada as offensive coordinator, who just completed his second season on the job.
“Why bring a new personality, a new coach with a new offense? Why do you want to put Kenny Pickett through that?”, he went on. “How many quarterbacks have we seen in recent years who have this revolving door of offensive coordinators and terminology and scheme and it keeps them from becoming the best quarterback they can be?”.
The Steelers first hired Canada in 2020 to be their quarterbacks coach. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2021 after they opted not to renew Randy Fichtner’s contract. It has been reported by ESPN that Canada is under contract through 2023, which would indicate a Steelers-standard three-year deal they typically hire coordinators to.
He oversaw Ben Roethlisberger’s final season in 2021 and then guided Pickett through his first after the Steelers drafted him in the first round. Pittsburgh averaged 20.2 points per game (21st in the league) in 2021 and 18.1 points per game (26th) in 2022.
But this past season was one of growing pains. Not only was there a seismic shift under center, there was a new offensive line with a new coach, and a bunch of rookie and second-year players still learning how to play while simultaneously learning how to play together. The 2023 season figures to start out smoother because of what they’ve already been through.
“If you’re all-in on Kenny Pickett and believe that he’s got the potential to be great, you hamper him if you get rid of Matt Canada and hire a new offensive coordinator at this point”, Florio insisted. “Now, long-term he may be better off, but short-term it does slow his growth if on top of everything else for next year he’s got to worry about a new offensive coordinator”.
I do think Florio defeats himself with his own logic here. If you’re all-in on Pickett, that means you believe he can be your quarterback for the next decade or two. And if that’s the case, you’re not going to stress over a one-year decision if you don’t think Canada is the long-term answer at offensive coordinator. Though if you don’t have a long-term answer to replace him with, it might make more sense to wait. But you can’t know unless you try.