Now is the time for Mike Tomlin to fix the mess he created

  • Stop internal coaching promotions
  • Take handcuffs off of Kenny Pickett
  • Open up the offensive playbook
Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

Now is the opportune moment for Mike Tomlin to finally set aside his pride and take accountability for the offensive turmoil he has orchestrated. The Steelers are currently witnessing an offensive performance that ranks among the franchise's worst, a spectacle that is painfully difficult to endure.

The genesis of this predicament traces back to careless and lazy offensive coordinator hirings, originating with the promotion of Randy Fichtner. This move, indisputably made to appease Ben Roethlisberger and maintain a familiar working relationship, appeared sensible at the time. Fichtner, having been with the team since 2007, seemed a logical choice to facilitate a smoother transition for Roethlisberger. However, Fichtner's tenure proved lackluster, resulting in his contract not being renewed after the 2020 season.

The kiss of death from another internal promotion

Enter Matt Canada, who, already on staff as the QB coach, was promoted to offensive coordinator in a decision mirroring the earlier mistake of internal promotion. Despite Canada's lack of prior NFL experience or notable success at the college level, he became the Steelers' play-caller.

The decision-making process, marked by a subpar interview process and a subsequent lackadaisical hire, has now come back to haunt the team. With Canada at the helm, the offense has progressively deteriorated each year. Rather than parting ways after last season's debacle, the Steelers opted to retain Canada, a decision that defies logic given two years of offensive stagnation and a roster built for immediate success.

As Albert Einstein famously said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." The Steelers' decision to retain a coordinator responsible for one of the NFL's bottom 5 offenses, from structural to conceptual and schematic aspects, epitomizes this definition of insanity. Mike Tomlin and Art Rooney's optimism for improvement after two years of stagnation borders on delusion. This is why it made sense for the Steelers to finally remove Canada once and for all. They need to hire a competent offensive coordinator if they ever want to improve in the future.

Time to take handcuffs off of Kenny Pickett

In the development of a rookie QB, the second year is pivotal. Most teams, armed with basic offensive knowledge, unshackle their young quarterbacks to showcase their growth and fulfill the potential that justified their first-round selection. However, the Steelers, now approaching Week 12, persist with a conservative philosophy and gameplan reminiscent for a rookie QB. With Sunday marking the 22nd start for the young quarterback, it's high time to remove the proverbial handcuffs and allow him to play freely.

With the recent firing of Matt Canada, the only viable option left for Mike Tomlin is to grant the young QB the latitude to play without constraints. The offensive scheme, philosophy, and processing imposed upon him have stunted his development, and the Steelers, currently at 6-4 and projected for the playoffs, are unlikely to see offensive improvement.

A wildcard blowout, as has become customary, looms on the horizon. Tomlin must discard his antiquated mindset and embrace a semblance of a modern NFL offense. With Eddie Faulkner and Mike Sullivan now at the helm as Offensive Coordinators, the moment has arrived to unfurl the playbook and allow your quarterback to exhibit the brand of football he has always excelled in. Rather than constraining his strengths, let's witness the progress he can make in an environment tailored to his skill set.

With nothing to lose and a favorable schedule, the Steelers should provide their first-round QB the opportunity to showcase his capabilities without the constraints that have hindered his progress. This move could offer insights into the quarterback's potential without the need for babysitting. The shift in Offensive Coordinators presents itself as a transitional phase, functioning as a trial period that enables the team to assess its trajectory for the future without postponing insights into what may or may not unfold until the next season.

It's time for Mike Tomlin to swallow his pride and enact the one change remaining at his disposal. Allowing your quarterback to play to his strengths might just be the solution to improving the offense. You won't know unless you give it a shot, and considering the offense is already struggling, there's not much to lose. It's worth trying something different. While the chances of seeing this change might be low, it's evident that an immediate adjustment is necessary.