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Saunders: The Bills Fired Ken Dorsey. Why is Matt Canada Still Here?



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

PITTSBURGH — The Buffalo Bills have fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, the team announced on Tuesday, after the Bills embarrassingly lost to the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, falling to 5-5 and out of the competitive AFC playoff picture. The move came after fans called for him

Dorsey has been with Buffalo since 2019, spending three seasons as quarterbacks coach before assuming the reins as offensive coordinator in 2022 after Brian Daboll’s departure to be the head coach of the New York Giants. 

His season and a half at the helm calling plays did not necessarily go poorly. The Bills are fourth in the NFL in scoring after 10 weeks of football. They’re second in yards, third in passing yards, and for a team that has largely eschewed the ground game the last few years, is an impressive 11th in rushing.

The thing that got Dorsey fired was the turnovers, as Buffalo has given the ball over 18 times this season, second-most in the NFL. Quarterback Josh Allen leads the league with 11 interceptions and is on pace to have a nearly 50% increase in interceptions from 2022.

It’s an interesting contrast to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 27th in points scored, 30th in yards, and yet have not given any real consideration to firing offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Part of the reason for that is that despite their failings as an offense, they have not turned the ball over. The Steelers have the second-fewest giveaways in the NFL this season with eight.

RELATED: Matt Canada Tabbed as One of NFL’s Worst Play Callers

That’s a big part of the reason that the Bills are 5-5 and out of the playoff picture and the Steelers are 6-3, sit in first place in the AFC North and could be in the driver’s seat with a win this week.

It’s something the Steelers are well aware of. Their focus on turnovers on the both sides of the ball is significant, because those plays lead directly to wins and losses at an incredible rate.

RELATED: Saunders: Nothing Lucky About Play of Steelers Defense

“We’re measured by wins and losses,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday, and that’s really the biggest reason that Canada remains employed and that Dorsey does not. The Steelers have won more games than they were expected to. The Bills have won fewer.

But there’s also another dynamic here at play. When the Bills promoted Dorsey from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, they paired him with Joe Brady as quarterbacks coach. Brady had been the offensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers the previous two seasons and was a legitimate candidate for other NFL coordinator jobs.

Head coach Sean McDermott will now turn things over to Brady to see if he can do a better job with the same personnel than Dorsey did. The Bills’ season is not over. They’re not punting. They’re trying something to see if it makes them better.

The Steelers did not come into the 2023 season with such an option. Quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan has been an NFL offensive coordinator, but not since 2017. When the Steelers hired him in 2021, he was working as director of recruiting at Army after taking a year off. Offensive analyst Glenn Thomas was not retained as part of a new coaching staff at Arizona State last offseason. No one else around the NFL was thinking of giving either of those men a chance as an NFL offensive coordinator any time soon.

Steelers Glenn Thomas

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive assistant Glenn Thomas talks with Matt Canada during practice on Oct. 19, 2023. — Alan Saunders / Steelers Now

The Steelers are stoic by nature. They aren’t going to react to a few weeks of bad play. But the fact that the Steelers are winning while struggling has insulated them from having to make a change, and the fact that they didn’t provide themselves with a reasonable second option, has made making a change at this point unattractive.

As long as the Steelers keep winning, that won’t be a problem, and they seem to have unlocked something in their running game over the last two weeks that should give hope for the future.

But if they don’t, they don’t have a better option to turn to. Their season will be over.