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Matt Canada Suprised By Kenny Pickett’s Struggles, ‘No Concerns’ They’ll Continue



Kenny Pickett Steelers Matt Canada
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada, right, talks with quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) during warm ups before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

PITTSBURGH — Almost no one expected the kind of performance the Pittsburgh Steelers got from quarterback Kenny Pickett in the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, including offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Pickett was 31 of 46 for 232 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions on Sunday, and his overall play, especially when the game was in reach, might have been worse than his statistics let on. That was a surprise to most who have seen Pickett show steady growth this offseason.

“We didn’t expect that,” Canada said on Thursday. “We didn’t play like we’ve played or practiced. I don’t have the answer why. We’re certainly working on it, evaluating, like you always do, win or lose. But we’re just surprised with the whole deal. But you can’t run from it. We’ve got to be better and we will be.”

In particular, the start of the game, when the Steelers failed to get a first down in their first five drives, didn’t even gain any positive yardage, and turned the ball over once, was  a shock to the system after a preseason that saw the first-team offense score touchdowns all five times it took the field.

“Five three and outs is not what we expected and obviously not acceptable,” Canada said. “It’s not what we practiced. It’s not how our guys have played. We have no concerns that it’s going to continue.”

In terms of Pickett specifically, Canada said that while he didn’t play well, the lopsided score and the Steelers needing to go away to their game plan because of it, made the game hard to compare to preseason expectations.

“There’s some things that Kenny would like to have back, just like everyone else,” Canada said. “You can’t go five series with three and outs and get ourselves down 20-0 and have any kind of a normal routine or rhythm. Everything that we talked about doing, you can’t do. If we’d have done those things and we were down three scores, it would’ve looked like we weren’t trying to catch up. You’ve got to play to win.”

STEELERS AFTERNOON DRIVE: Did They Abandon The Run Too Soon?

The Steelers will now have to get their offense back on track, do it without Diontae Johnson, and against a Cleveland Browns defense that held the Cincinnati Bengals to three points in the opener. Canada said he believes that the offense he’s seen all summer will eventually shine through.

“We didn’t perform well in our first game and it’s very disappointing,” Canada said. “But with everything we’ve done through the spring and the summer, I don’t have any doubts or concerns that it’s going to be better.”

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