Did Steelers promote Matt Canada to OC for all the wrong reasons?

Interim head football coach Matt Canada. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Interim head football coach Matt Canada. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers promoted Matt Canada to offensive coordinator, but here’s why they may have done so with the wrong motive. 

When the Steelers hired former Maryland coach, Matt Canada, last offseason, he was supposed to help add more creativity to the offense. During his time in Maryland, he was largely responsible for running an offense that utilized play-action and pre-snap motion to its finest.

Early in the 2020 season for Pittsburgh, this is exactly what he brought to the table. Using players like Chase Claypool and Ray-Ray McCloud in jet sweeps, Canada’s innovation allowed the Steelers to score 31.2 points per game over their first five games of the season.

However, as the year pressed on, Canada’s fingerprint in the offense was almost completely removed. Instead of running the presnap motions and play-action they were at the beginning of the year, this had reverted back to Randy Fichtner’s predictable short passing game with no spark to mix things up. After Fichtner’s contract wasn’t renewed this offseason, Pittsburgh recently promoted Matt Canada from quarterback coach to the offensive coordinator position.

While I believe in Canada’s creativity and innovation he could bring to this offense, did the Steelers make the right hire for all the wrong reasons?

Did Steelers promote Canada for the wrong reason?

You may be confused with what I mean by this, but the explanation is really quite simple. Ben Roethlisberger has made it clear that he is not a fan of play-action. He doesn’t ever like to have his back turned to the defense and he likes to see what’s in front of him as the play develops.

We know full well that Ben had a hand in hiring Randy Fichtner as the offensive coordinator in 2018. Though Todd Haley was able to put up some of the best offensive numbers the franchise has ever seen from 2012-2017, he was let go after a divisional-round playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars – a year in which Pittsburgh finished 13-3 on the season.

Roethlisberger lobbied for Fichtner as the next offensive coordinator because he was already familiar with him and they had a solid relationship. Based on merit, however, there were better options available.

Matt Canada is a bit different. I thoroughly believe he is capable of installing an innovative offense in Pittsburgh. But will he be allowed to? How much say does Ben Roethlisberger have in what goes on with this team? If Ben returns, is he going to be okay with all of the play-action and pre-snap motion Canada brings to the table?

Perhaps hiring Matt Canada was a way for the Steelers to keep Ben Roethlisberger around for one more year. However, it’s a terrible idea to start your rebuilding process around your soon-to-be 39-year-old quarterback and cater to his needs.

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We don’t know the exact motivation behind Matt Canada’s promotion to offensive coordinator, but these in-house hirings haven’t exactly worked out in the past. Still, I am a fan of Canada and what he brings to the table. I just hope he doesn’t have to dull down his offense for Roethlisberger.