Connect with us

Steelers News

Steelers Players Hope Matt Canada Firing Brings Big Changes: ‘I Was Shocked’



Steelers OC Matt Canada
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada at training camp on Aug. 8, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The firing of offensive coordinator Matt Canada caught everyone by surprise; even the players did not know it would come on Tuesday. When asked if they thought a change was coming, Steelers players were not sure if that would come, but now that it did come, the confidence level is high, but it does not change much for the team and their mindset.

“Confidence is high. At the end of the day, the lows and stuff that we have had on offense doesn’t come down to one person, one individual or anything like that,” receiver Allen Robinson said. “I think that we have the right group to be able to do that, to get this thing pushed in the right direction. We have an immense amount of talent, I think that we’ve seen everybody making the plays that they’re capable of making across the board at every position group.”

The other questions have arisen around Kenny Pickett, who has not played at a high level this season. Pickett has largely failed to develop beyond what he showed as a rookie quarterback last season thus far in 2023. In 10 games this season, he has completed 170 of 281 passes (60.5%) for 1,722 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 79.2 passer rating, 35.7 QBR and 4.96 adjusted net yards per attempt.

That’s only ahead of his rookie pace by the slimmest of margins. He finished 2022 after 13 games, completing 245 of 389 (63%) for 2,404 yards, seven touchdowns, nine interceptions, and a 76.7 passer rating, 53.6 QBR and 4.7 adjusted net yards per attempt.

But the Steelers have high confidence in him turning things around. That comes from the players and coaches, who have seen his growth and work daily, even if the results have not shown up on the field yet.

Steelers, Kenny PIckett, Matt Canada

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada (left) watches quarterback Kenny Pickett throw during rookie camp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

“I have full confidence in Kenny,” tight end Pat Freiermuth said. “I have full confidence in everyone to get this offense going where it needs to go.”

However, if you thought the mood in the locker room would be jubilant, that is not what it was outwardly. It seemed more solemn. Even if there was a feeling that some change had to be made, Canada was well-liked by several players. But the coaching never came along to justify keeping him when the team needed a drastic change.

“I’m not gonna cheer for it,” Freiermuth said. “It’s sad. He’s a great guy and I had a great relationship with Coach Canada. You’re never going to celebrate someone losing their job. He’s got a great family, and he’s a great guy. It’s definitely sad. We have to pushing forward with a big division game coming up.”

But there was a bit of shock and almost alleviation throughout the locker room when something changed. Some players’ meetings would not change anything. At this point, there had to be a personnel or significant change in coaching. Mike Tomlin picked the coaching side of things, and with it occurring on a player’s day off, the Steelers players found out through texts, calls, or social media rather than some extravagant locker room meeting. But there is excitement about what new offensive coordinator Eddie Faulkner can bring.

Steelers OC Eddie Faulkner

Steelers OC Eddie Faulkner at practice on May 25, 2022 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“I was shocked just like everybody else when I found out,” receiver Miles Boykin said. “Coach Faulk has been great so far. He’s brought leadership to the offense and is making sure we’re on the same page. I think everyone can appreciate that.”

With the team averaging just 16.6 points per game, the move seems like one that had to be made. Tomlin said he ‘just knew’ that the time was now for them to make that change. He saw the results, and Pittsburgh had to make that change for something to change. But it’s up to the players and new coaches to enact the change, even if that game is a crucial divisional clash.

“It’s challenging because we’re still in it,” Boykin said. “We’re going into a game. We’re not on a bye week or something like that. At the same time, it’s encouraging because I think everybody sees the potential that this team has and where we are.”

Regardless, the Steelers have to get back at it and try to assimilate into any changes on the week before a critical turning point in the season. Their game against the Bengals is about as much of a must-win as it gets when it comes to the crowded AFC playoff field. Pittsburgh’s schedule looks favorable down the stretch, and a win would put them in prime position for a trip to the postseason with the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, and Indianapolis Colts coming up next on their schedule after the Bengals.

“At the end of the day, whatever is coming in play-wise or whatever’s install wise, for us as a group we need to be locked into that,” Robinson said. “At the same time, the main thing is us as players coming together and making sure we are doing our efforts and our parts across the board to be able to clean up certain things, communication stuff, over-communicating and being on the same page. It’s doing everything necessary that we need to do to get this train pushing forward in the right direction.”

So, the Steelers will head into practice on Wednesday and have a new look on the offensive side of the ball. The changes do not have to spark significant differences, but if the team can take a small leap, that can mean everything for their season moving forward.