The Steelers dropped their second game of the season, falling to 2-2. However, it is a potentially costly loss as Kenny Pickett suffered a knee injury in the process. The severity of the injury is still unknown at this time. While most injuries are unavoidable, smart playcalling could have avoided this one.
The Steelers, before the play that led to the injury, actually had started to get some momentum and had managed to get some production out of their running game as they tried to narrow the score in the early part of the third quarter. On the Steelers' first possession in the second half, they put together a scoring drive thanks to Najee Harris and Jaylen Warring snagging 42 rushing yards on the drive.
On their second possession, the Steelers were on the verge of another possible scoring drive. While only rushing for eight yards, Najee Harris did make a 32-yard reception and got them to the Houston Texan 8-yard line. The drive stalled, leading to a second Chris Boswell field goal.
On their third possession in the third quarter, the Steelers had managed a third possible scoring drive thanks to another 24 rushing yards by Najee Harris. However, thanks to a fumble at the Houston 32, the Steelers found themselves in a 3rd and 18. However, Kenny Pickett hit George Pickens for 17 yards, leaving them in a 4th and one at the Houston 33-yard line. It's an obvious go-for-it situation, only being behind by 10 points.
With the rushing game working and the Steelers only needing one yard, they would either try a quarterback sneak or plow the road and allow Najee to pick up the first down. No, not really. We got some more of Matt Canada's ingenious playcalling. The Steelers come out in a shotgun formation in which Pickett was injured. He could not continue, and the Steelers turned the ball over on downs. The Texans scored a touchdown on their next possession.
Why the Steelers need to fire Matt Canada
Kenny Pickett could miss next week or multiple games (depending on the seriousness of the injury). The Steelers need to get real on their grand experiment of keeping Matt Canada as their offensive coordinator. His botched play-calling cost the Steelers a possible win and injured their quarterback. When is enough really enough?
Sure, people like to fall back on, 'But the Steelers generally like to wait until the end of the season or when their contract expires'. Yes, sometimes that makes sense; like if you're 0-10, what's another seven games? You're probably going to miss the playoffs anyway. The Steelers here still have a chance to make the playoffs if they can make some corrections. The Steelers sending Matt Canada packing is one of those corrections.
The excuses get tiring. First, Ben Roethlisberger had to retire after the excuse was he needed a mobile quarterback. Then it was a matter of finding all the right pieces. Please stop making excuses. Let’s call a spade a spade and agree Matt Canada does not know how to call plays or run an offense. Now he’s getting the quarterbacks injured and putting the Steelers' remainder of the season in jeopardy.
There must be an essential point concession here. Not all of the offensive problems are a direct result of Canada's playcalling. It looks like part of this general manager's problem in that his free agency acquisitions to fix the offensive line do not appear to be as genius as people thought in the offseason.
Part of this lies on Mike Tomlin not starting Broderick Jones and staying with Dan Moore. With Moore on the bench after a knee injury, the Steelers run game improved with Jones in the game. That's a highly odd coincidence (go figure).
In addition, another piece to this equation is that there is a quarterback issue in that it does not look like Pickett has made that second-season step. However, the Steelers need to let the Kenny Pickett situation play out and see where he finishes the season. In the end, any problems with Tomlins's coaching or the general manager's free agency acquisitions are a complex problem that's not as easily solvable immediately.
Who do the Steelers replace Matt Canada with?
Removing Canada now addresses a major problem, but there are some inherent problems with firing him. Who do they replace him with in the interim? They could promote from within, which generally occurs with a mid-season replacement.
If they do, then they promote Mike Sullivan, or they could surprise us and promote Alfredo Roberts, Eddie Faulkner, or Frisman Jackson. One other unlikely interim option is to give Big Ben a call (who is better at calling plays, which he mostly did in the latter stages of his career). Plus, he could be a good mentor for Kenny Pickett.
Once the season ends, the Steelers can evaluate and decide if Canada's replacement should be permanent or if they will need to find someone at the end of the season. They will have time to do a search to evaluate their options. Nevertheless, the Steelers can ill afford to stay with Matt Canada until the end of the season; he needs to go now. That said, no, it won't solve every offensive problem, but it would be a good first step.