Arguably the central argument about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offseason has been their decision to retain Matt Canada as offensive coordinator. Few fanbases actually like their team’s offensive coordinator, but the Steelers’ in particular have been criticized multiple times at the national level.
Yet some have at least tried to understand the reasoning, stated by team president Art Rooney II. With a young quarterback going into his second season and progress shown in the second half of the season, they are opting for stability at this time.
The belief is that change now would hinder his growth in the upcoming season. That’s the angle former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward approached the conversation while speaking with Harrison Graham on Chat Sports’ Steelers Talk.
“If the quarterback has a nice rapport with him, and they did improve on the back half of the season, I can see why the Steelers probably would choose to just keep it going”, he said. “There’s so much you can build off the way the Pittsburgh Steelers finished the second part of the season. I think the years we went to the Super Bowl, we had that similar run where we start playing good football at the latter part of the year”.
While Pickett did not start the first four games of the season, they were only 2-6 by the midseason bye. They went on a 7-2 run in the second half of the year, however. Their total points scored did not take a significant jump, but their drives, including their scoring, were more efficient.
“From the outside looking in, I just think they factored in all that, saying, ‘Hey, let’s give him another year and see if Kenny improves and if the team can improve’, and that warrants him staying for another year, how strong the Steelers finished the year out”, Ward added.
Even with the improvements in the second half of the season, the Steelers still ended the year ranked 26th in points scored and 23rd in yards. They did have the fourth-fewest giveaways, arguably the biggest and most tangible improvement from the first half to the second.
Notably, their average drive time of three minutes and two seconds was the second-longest in the NFL, and their 6.51 drives per play was the most, yet they still ranked 17th in yards per drive and 23rd in points scored per drive.
It goes without saying that the Steelers’ decision to retain Canada was based on their belief in what the offense can do in the future with him, not what they have done up to this point. There’s obviously a tremendous amount of work to be done. But at least external to the offensive coordinator, there is reason to be optimistic things will improve through the natural maturation of the talent on the roster.