This morning the Pittsburgh Steelers made an extremely uncharacteristic move when they fired Offensive Coordinator, Matt Canada in-season. The Steelers have been well-known as an organization that rarely relieves coaches of their duties, particularly during the season.
In fact, according to Adam Schefter, of ESPN, you have to go back to 1941 to see a scenario where the Steelers relieved a coach of duties during the season.
Though the Steelers made the right -- and long overdue -- move, moving on from Canada will not solve all of their problems. While he was a huge part of the problem, there remain issues with the offense, and these issues are likely ones that cannot be fully fixed during the season.
While Canada is gone, the Steelers' offense will not look much different
With Matt Canada no longer calling the plays, since this move was made in-season, the team is promoting both Mike Sullivan and Eddie Faulkner to handle the play-calling duties, per Mike Garafolo, of NFL Network. While Sullivan will be the play-caller, Eddie Faulkner will also have added responsibilities and serve as a voice in the offense.
Since these two were already on the staff, it is unlikely that the offense will change drastically. While this may be a spark that the team needed to galvanize the offense, the scheme will likely remain very similar.
While decisions of when to throw and when to run will change, the route concepts and style of play won't change, although hopefully, they can implement some more plays over the middle of the field.
This move is a step in the right direction, but it is just a band-aid, and the team must make an outside hire this offseason in order to see some true change in the offense when it comes to schematics and play design.
While there are many names out there who have been floated as possibilities, including: Byron Leftwich, Joe Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Eric Bieniemy, Mark Whipple, and many more; not all of these are realistic. While change is needed in the offseason, for now, the team has to focus on what it has in-house and how it can get the best out of its quarterback and the rest of the offense.
How much of the Steelers offensive struggles are on Kenny Pickett?
With Canada gone, The Steelers and Steelers fans no longer have the scapegoat of it being Matt Canada's fault whenever Kenny Pickett would miss a throw or have a bad game. As previously mentioned, the offense won't look too different, but Pickett has to show some flashes.
Pickett showed plenty of flashes last year which made him a very encouraging player entering year two. By no means was he a star but his late-game comebacks, guts, and moxie made him look like he could become the franchise quarterback. However, he has regressed this year, particularly in the past few weeks, as he almost appears afraid to let loose and make the throws he has to.
While much of the offenses problems have been on Matt Canada's play-calling, Pickett has not been helping much in his own right. There've been plenty of plays where he has a better look in the middle of the field, down the field, or along the sideline, but opts for a checkdown instead.
He's done a tremendous job limiting turnovers but has just two touchdown passes since week 4. In the modern NFL, with so many high-flying offenses that is a truly shocking number. At a certain point, he's going to have to start making some big plays for the team to become a realistic contender.
Pickett will likely enter the season as the starter next year unless something drastic happens and he gets hurt or regresses even more. However, he must show some signs of life down the stretch so that he doesn't lose the fanbase and become the new scapegoat for Steelers Nation. The Steelers need to let Pickett loose the rest of the season and hopefully, he will show some sparks and ignite the offense and himself.
While change is still needed long-term at Offensive Coordinator, and it remains to be seen if Kenny Pickett is the long-term answer at quarterback for Pittsburgh, today was a step in the right direction for Pittsburgh.