The Pittsburgh Steelers' start to the season has been a frustrating one. While they have found a way to get to a 2-1 record, the team has performed poorly. In particular, the offense has been a lackluster group despite promising improvements this offseason.
Even after an impressive win against the Raiders on Sunday night, Pittsburgh is still seemingly aboard the “Fire Matt Canada train” despite the small turnaround. You don’t need any more evidence than the fans at home chanting “Fire Canada” in Week 2. While the argument is a valid one, I feel like firing Canada is an overrated potential move.
I hear Johnny Cash in the back of my head singing “What have I become, my sweetest friend” as I type this. This is also coming from someone who was in favor of cutting Canada during the offseason, and I felt like keeping him was a safe decision.
While I was in favor of moving on from Canada then, I am less inclined now. This isn’t because he isn’t deserving. His schemes are way too repetitive and lack creativity. He tries to mask that with a lot of motion akin to the offense in San Fransisco. Their unit looks like the Mona Lisa; Canada’s is the paint-by-numbers version done with off-brand crayons.
Matt Canada isn’t the Steelers only problem
Unfortunately, Canada isn’t the Steelers' only problem on offense right now. You read through various tweets and articles by fans and writers claiming that firing Canada is a quick fix. He goes, and the offense suddenly becomes the unit we expected it to be.
This has also been the argument for the past offensive coordinators of this team. Bruce Ariens was too risky, Todd Haley clashed with the team, and Randy Fitchner was incompetent. All of them wore out their welcome quickly, and fans were convinced that the next coordinator would be the simple solution to what the current one was lacking.
This isn’t usually the case. While scheme and playcalling are vital, so are positional fits and just plain talent alone. If the offense is lacking that, amidst a variety of other things, it won’t excel no matter who is calling plays.
On top of this, those complaining that Canada’s offense is simple and repetitive would likely hate a new coordinator's system for this season. A mid-season firing would likely lead to Mike Sullivan getting the nod, and even if it isn’t his favored offense, he would likely keep things simple and basic. This unit wouldn’t be able to pick anything complex up midway through the season.
The Steelers have bigger issues in play
Unfortunately, the Steelers offense isn’t just being held back by Canada. The rebuilt offensive line, a unit that has seen significant investments over the past two years, has come out flat. Worse yet, Kenny Pickett hasn’t taken a leap forward this season and has more often than not seemed to regress.
Even after a small rebound game against the Raiders, those issues were still apparent on tape. Pittsburgh failed to get their run game going once again, and the line was susceptible to allowing some pressure. Pickett looked calmer, but still struggled with accuracy and his pocket presence.
All of these won’t suddenly be fixed if Canada were to be let go. If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the offense continue to struggle. Pickett would suddenly be picking up a new system on the fly, and he hasn’t shown the ability to excel in his current offense. Asking him to pick up a new system is easier said than done.
Again, this isn’t saying that Canada should remain with the team past this season. Again, I argued that he should have been gone last year. Now that he is here though, firing him won’t resolve all of Pittsburgh's issues.
As a fan, it is frustrating to see people overlook the inherent issues along the line and at quarterback and simply claim that Canada is the sole issue on offense. It won’t matter who is the next offensive coordinator if the Steelers can’t get a boost in their offensive talent. Canada deserves plenty of blame, but firing him now won’t result in a quick turnaround for the Steelers' offense this season despite what many talking heads and fans may claim.