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Mike Tomlin Reveals Critical Reason He Fired Matt Canada



Steelers OC Matt Canada
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada before a game against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 12, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Earlier this week, the Steelers did the unthinkable. They fired a coordinator in the season, with offensive coordinator Matt Canada being fired. That all came on the heels of putrid offensive performances over the years, with quarterback Kenny Pickett taking a step back. Not only that, but Najee Harris’ critical comments after the game and a heated argument between Diontae Johnson and Minkah Fitzpatrick likely contributed to that feeling.

On Tuesday, Mike Tomlin stated that improvements were not coming fast enough for his liking and that the fluidity of the offense under Canada’s guidance was unacceptable. It felt like, at times, they were playing September football. What did Tomlin mean by that? Talking with Bob Labriola of, Tomlin explained that the miscommunication, timing, rhythm, and overall feel of the offense were lacking, and that was a massive part in the dismissal of Canada.

“We just have to have increased fluidity down in and down out, things happening on time. And that’s the best way to probably describe it,” Tomlin said. “The more fluidity in what you work with as a collective – and it should increase as the season goes on – it smooths out negativity, whether it’s penalties due to poor technique, or lack of awareness, or negative plays because of identification, and things of that nature, and it should increase the probability of explosion plays just simply because of cohesion and understanding and playing faster because of exposure.”

“And so I’m looking for more fluidity in our play. I’m looking to reduce the amount of negativity in our play, however you describe it, and I’m looking to increase the potential for splash or the positive components in play. And when you have more fluidity down in and down out, you have an opportunity for those things to develop. And quite frankly, those things weren’t developing fast enough.”

Steelers OC Matt Canada

Steelers OC Matt Canada watches on during pregame warmups against the Titans, Nov. 2, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Steelers had little to come back with for answers to their problems. That is where Canada’s firing had to happen. Players were caught off guard by the defense’s game plan multiple times, and Canada never made the necessary adjustments to assuage those concerns. For example, the Browns ran a ton of zone coverage when they ran mostly man coverage throughout the year, which caught Pickett and the offense by surprise. But the offense had no answers and was running man-beaters for much of the game.

But the miscommunication between Diontae Johnson and Kenny Pickett against the Browns was egregious and hurt Pittsburgh as much as anything the Browns did. It seems that was part of the final straw for Tomlin, who decided to take a leap after seeing his offense against the Browns.