The Steelers seem to be pretty set on their coaching staff, and for a team that struggled as much as they did, it is a weird choice.
The Steelers have already begun to develop their offseason plan and to say the least, it has started on a curious note. Despite this team being abysmal for most of the season, it seems as though no major changes are set to be made to the coaching staff. For an offseason as critical as this one, it is a frustrating reality.
Let’s set the record straight: this wasn’t a good Steelers team in 2022. While some fans point to the 9-8 record and more specifically, the mid-season turnaround, this unit didn’t go from an abysmal unit to some sort of a sleeping giant. A much more forgiving schedule and the return of a partially healthy T.J. Watt were the reasons for the late-season surge.
This offense was still a middling unit, one marred with safe play calls that got the least out of its talent. The defense, while a better unit, still had a lot of underachieving. Pittsburgh is in a prime position with Kenny Pickett on his rookie deal to make some big changes to get back into contention. It seems as though the team is going to continue on its current path though.
Let’s address the Matt Canada ordeal
When talking about coaching, everyone wants to pile onto Matt Canada, and understandably so. Canada led one of the worst offenses over the past two seasons, and even when this team played better late in the season, the offense was still a middling unit. Canada has shown almost nothing since being promoted to offensive coordinator.
I’ve already discussed just how bad of a move this is, and I’m not going to harp on it. That said, this team is willingly keeping him for another season despite the production not being there. It is an almost inexcusable offense for a Steelers team that hasn’t been a competitor in quite a few seasons.
The Steelers should have made other firings
Canada wasn’t the only underachieving staff member though. A name I would have quickly parted ways with is Jerry Olsavsky. The off-ball linebackers were, once again, horrible this season. This was despite the large investment in Myles Jack and the hope that Devin Bush would rebound into a solid starter.
How about Danny Smith? The coverage units were sloppy, allowing bigger returns that put this team in tougher defensive situations. As well, Pressley Harvin once again was an inconsistent punter. This unit was lackluster despite an influx of special teams investments being made last year.
One could even argue that Teryl Austin was below the mark because his defense didn’t consistently shut down offenses. While the Watt injury is important to note here, Austin’s defense felt like a net underachiever overall.
The team was never going to make sweeping changes
To be clear, the Steelers weren’t going to part ways with most of the coaching staff in one grand move this offseason. That was never in the cards. That said, Mike Tomlin consistently talked this season about how all options were open when this team was struggling. He, and the team, have seemingly backtracked on that.
There is a real chance the only name that leaves is Brian Flores, as he accepts a different position elsewhere. There are also talks of potentially adding some more assistants akin to what Flores did last year. For a team that looked like one of the worst in the league only to ascend to an average unit during a stretch of easier games, this is unacceptable.
I am all for consistency in a staff, as players and coaches can gel together and improve. That said, consistency, when the results have been below average for multiple seasons, is unacceptable. This is a team that needed to make some changes and get aggressive this year, and as of now, they haven’t done either.
While getting a new inside linebackers coach or even a new offensive coordinator wouldn’t mean a sudden turnaround, the utter lack of change is disappointing. There was a real chance for this team to get better from the coaches to the players. Instead, the entire unit will remain intact for another season that will likely be good enough to win some games but won’t be a legitimate playoff team or Super Bowl contender.