PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers’ improvement in the second half of the 2022 season was the primary reason for keeping offensive coordinate Matt Canada, president Art Rooney II said in a meeting with a select group of the media on Thursday.
The Steelers started the 2022 season with a 2-6 record, but after making a change at quarterback and solidifying things during the team’s bye week, the Steelers won seven of their final nine games and four in a row to close the season to keep their playoff hopes alive until the final week and maintain the franchise’s 19-year streak of not having a losing season.
“Even though we fell short of making the playoffs this year, I felt the second half of the season was encouraging,” Rooney said. “Obviously, we still have a lot of areas we need to improve on, but I like the way the team kept fighting down the stretch and kept ourselves alive.”
Specifically regarding Canada, who is entering his third season as the Steelers offensive coordinator, Rooney cited that end-of-season success, along with the job he did with the development of rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett as factors in brining Canada back.
“We liked to see the improvement and with a rookie quarterback, they seem to work well together,” Rooney said. “They built a good working relationship. To sort of start over with a new offensive coordinator, you could wind up in the same situation again, where the first half of the season, you’re breaking in a new coordinator. We just felt like there’s enough there to build on that we wanted to continue to keep that group together.”
But despite brining Canada back, Rooney emphasized that the team’s passing offense was not effective enough in 2022 and the overall red-zone percentage was not good enough. When asked what he’d like to improve the most about the 2023 team, he was succinct: “score more points.”
The Steelers scored 343 in Canada’s first season, with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. Between Pickett and Mitch Trubisky, they scored just 308 in 2023. That trend will need to be reversed if Canada’s stay in Pittsburgh will extend beyond next season, when his contract expires.