Does Steelers draft class give OC Matt Canada the needed tools to succeed in 2023

Nov 20, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada
Nov 20, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If the Steelers still have one gray area after their 2023 draft, it still centers around the offensive coordinator Matt Canada. As you recall, members of the media and fans on Twitter kept calling for the firing of Canada especially in the early part of the 2022 season. Most thought if they were going to fire him, it would have been on the bye week, but it never happened.

When the season ended, and Frank Reich was sitting there after the Colts fired him, people thought the Steelers would fire Canada and get a much better replacement. That didn’t happen. As it turned on Steelers owner Art Rooney basically nixed the firing of Canada on the premise they wanted to keep some consistency for Kenny Pickett as he develops as the Steelers quarterback, in that they did not want to have to throw him into a brand new offensive system after one season as it could hurt his development.

While that’s a fair point and has happened to other quarterbacks in the league. But The Steelers missed another fundamental question they should have asked before asking if they wanted to subject Pickett to an offensive coordinator change. They should have asked if Canada was worth keeping. If you listened to the language used, it almost seemed they were resigned to the fact that he was not, but because he was under contract, he seemed hesitant to make a move and, thus hampering Pickett’s development, seemed the perfect scapegoat.  

Does Canada now have the tools to make his offense work

Regardless the Steelers are stuck with Canada until the end of the 2023 season. Knowing that we must look at the next question did the Steelers 2023 draft, especially the acquisition of Broderick Jones and Darnell Washington, gives Canada the help he needs to make his offense work?

In theory, it may, but it depends on who you ask. Adding Washing and Jones will help in the run game and give Pickett an escape avenue; if he’s pressured in the pocket. If you want to run RPOs well, having big guys up front help make those plays work, as do they help a jet sweep be more fruitful. However, the specific knock on Canada was his lack of creativity and failure to use the weapons he had in the 2022 season.

It seemed they would have a string of three-and-outs and didn’t do much to utilize George Pickens. When the Steelers successfully moved the ball late in the season, they utilized more creative play calling, which, if one believes any of the rumors, might have come from Tomlin, not Canada. As some rumors question the involvement of Tomlin in the offensive play calling, which at one point, he admitted to.

Like Canada or hate him, the Steelers have him for one more season. While you can criticize his first two seasons as offensive coordinator, we at least have to give the Steelers six or so games into 2023 to see if we are just getting more lackluster uncreative play calling or if the draft haul by the Steelers effectively gives Canada more to work with. With a better offensive line, it’s possible things work more smoothly, and perhaps plays that couldn’t work last year could be productive in 2023.

The bottom line here is that the wolves have been at the door for Canada since the 2021 season ended, and, like it or not, he is clearly on the hot seat in 2023. Canada no longer has the luxury of calling plays that do not produce results. In fairness, it’s possible the Steelers may have finally provided him the tools necessary to make his offense work.

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If it does the Steelers become a scoring juggernaut, then no one will care much about the Canada controversy in the last two seasons. It’s either Canada produces results, or his contract is not being renewed. The second his play calling falters, he could find himself standing in the unemployment line in January.