PITTSBURGH — Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that the decision to fire former Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada was made by just him and not made innately by team president Art Rooney II or general manager Omar Khan. Canada’s tenure was not working out for Pittsburgh, and despite appreciating what Canada did for the team, Tomlin had to make the tough call and fire Canada.
“Leadership is lonely,” Tomlin said. “I don’t run from it; I run to it. It was mine and mine alone.”
That comes on the heels of speculation about who made the final call to get rid of Matt Canada and whether Tomlin was overruled by his superiors. According to the way Tomlin answered, he made that final decision. He noted that the business is hard, but he had to decide because the results were not there for the offense after losing to the Browns.
“Did not come to this decision lightly to be transparent with you,” Tomlin said. “It’s just a personal belief of mine, my role to absorb and protect those that I work with. This doesn’t feel like that. I’m not interested in deflecting or assigning blame in some way. It’s more in my nature to absorb to be quite honest with you. I’ve been in this role for so long I’m quite comfortable absorbing it. So, just rest assured that this decision was not taken lightly. I’ve got a lot of respect for Matt personally and professionally but I thought it was necessary. This is a result-oriented business. And to be short, the improvements were not rapid enough or consistent enough for us to proceed. You gotta score touchdowns in this business, win games in this business, and just the totality of it as us where we are today.”
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.
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 right now for them to make that change. He saw the results, and Pittsburgh had to make that change for something to change.
“Just having been in the role that I’ve been in for some time, you just know when you’re there,” Tomlin said. “It’s a totality of a myriad of variables.”
Now, quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan and running backs coach Eddie Faulkner will help do the coordinating and play calling moving forward. They hope it shows a tangible change.