The Steelers’ Matt Canada Has Some Stuff to Coordinate For A Change

The last two years haven’t been good enough. But in the wake of the draft and the natural evolution of the offense, the embattled OC, at last, has what he needs to change the narrative.
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It took approximately one hour after the completion of a three-day NFL Draft that’s being lauded locally and nationally for what the Steelers were able to glean for perspective to be applied as only a Steelers fan can.

“Yeah, they got some good players,” the guy next to me at the bar grudgingly acknowledged. “But they still have Matt Canada.”

Both statements were true but they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Yes, it appears the Steelers got some good players during the NFL’s annual talent grab, two of which, offensive tackle Broderick Jones and tight end Darnell Washington, ought to be of great benefit to the offense sooner rather than later.

And yes, it’s still Canada doing the offense’s coordinating.

But that doesn’t mean the offense is doomed.

It hasn’t been pretty or productive enough over the last two seasons but that’s attributable to circumstances as much as it is Canada.

A quarterback that was either too old (Ben Roethlisberger), or too young (Kenny Pickett). Skill-position players that were too inexperienced. A line that either wasn’t good enough (2021) or was in the process of gradually coalescing as the season progressed (2022). And, because of all of that, a mandate from a pay grade higher than Canada’s for the offense to first not lose the game, as opposed to aggressively trying to win it.

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This season should be different.

The biggest reason why is quarterback Kenny Pickett, who will presumably be the starter from start to finish this season.

The way Pickett ascended to the position midstream a year ago was less than ideal. But he still managed to progress from throwing multiple interceptions when he had a chance to steal a game late (at Miami) to actually winning games that called for late-game heroics from the QB  (Las Vegas, at Baltimore).

If you have that, you have enough.

The rest is just details.

Pickett is still far from a grizzled veteran but he’s no longer a rookie.

Neither is under-utilized wide receiver George Pickens.

Neither is tight end/fullback/H-back Connor Heyward.

Running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth will be entering their third seasons with the Steelers.

Allen Robinson has been added as a veteran presence and, theoretically, at least, a still-productive veteran wide receiver.

And the line has been upgraded again through the free-agent signing of guard Isaac Seumalo and the drafting of Jones and Washington, enough that it’s reasonable to expect it to be a Steelers’ strength for the first time in recent memory.

If all of the above still isn’t enough to prove game changing, then, by all means, blame Canada.

If the No. 1 objective remains not to turn the ball over more than it will be to actually run it and throw it into the end zone, then Canada is going to have to answer for that, as will Mike Tomlin.

But it’s not as if the Steelers emerged from last season unaware of their offensive shortcomings.

The suggestion/directive from Steelers president Art Rooney II just after last season ended was to “score more points.”

And much of what has been done since then has seemingly been done with that very goal in mind.

The barn was painted red last season, Tomlin has acknowledged, because red paint was what was available.

But there should be plenty of colors to choose from this season.

That’s reason enough for optimism, not pessimism.

Unless you’re one of those types that likes to cry in your beer even when it’s Happy Hour.

Categories: Mike Prisuta’s Sports Section