The Pittsburgh Steelers are well known for pulling a Tammy Wynette and “standing by their man.” They have a long history of keeping coaches; look at the fact that they have had three head coaches in more than 50 years. This sometimes works in their favor and sometimes not so much. The Steelers are employing that same tactic by keeping current offensive coordinator, Matt Canada for 2023.
Canada, who has one year remaining on his contract, has been the subject of a lot of venom-filled tweets and speculation after two less-than-stellar seasons. However, former Steelers quarterback, Kordell Stewart appeared on 93.7 The Fan, The PM Team w/ Poni and Mueller, and said that he thinks keeping Canada was the right thing to do, the best thing for the young quarterback, Kenny Pickett.
Stewart shared that fans are quick to want to fire offensive coordinators. It is not unusual for the OC to be the most hated man in the city, unless you’re going to the Super Bowl. However, according to Stewart, it is not as simple as it sounds and Stewart knows this from personal experience.
During his time with the Steelers, Stewart had four different offensive coordinators in six years. Stewart said he had his best seasons during 1997 and 2001. The common denominator in both of those years was that he had a relationship with his OC. Both Chan Gailey and Mike Mularkey were position coaches prior to being promoted to OC.
This prior relationship, according to Stewart, gave them the knowledge they needed to be productive and successful. He said if they get rid of Canada now, then fans will really see Pickett struggle. That is because it takes time for the coach and player to build rapport:
“Yes, leave it be, give it a chance again and let’s see what happens. The adjustments ended up being made to allow them to get in position to finish 9-8 with hoping the Miami Dolphins would lose.”
Stewart said he expects the Steelers to be able to capitalize upon their strong finish. To be able to almost make the playoffs after starting the season 2-6 is something to be proud of. Of course, you shouldn’t be relying on other teams to take care of your business for you, reminds Stewart. To be down like that prior to the bye week and then make such a tremendous turnaround merits Canada the right to finish out his contract:
“I say you give Coach Canada the opportunity to take a run at this thing. Let that young quarterback in Kenny Pickett see the same plays again, same formations, somewhat the same players, same motion, same feeling of knowing that, ‘I know what I’m getting into.'”
When asked if a great quarterback can overcome a bad offensive coordinator, Stewart said we have seen it from time to time, but it is not the norm. The example he gave is Tom Brady. He has struggled some this year in Tampa Bay and may not have the best OC, but he is Brady and he is still able to make some things happen. It isn’t enough to help the team find true success, but it is better than it would have been if they had a mediocre QB.
According to Stewart, the relationship between OC and QB is a 50-50 one. The OC has to develop plays that suit the players on the team and make them look good. The QB has to execute the plays that are designed for him in such a way that it makes the OC look good.
It seems like that is a valid concession since the growth after the bye week last season was promising. Now Canada will head into the season planning for Pickett as the starting quarterback, designing the offense around him, not Mitch Trubisky. While many are frustrated that the Steelers kept Canada, it seems likely that implementing a new OC would have led to other frustrations.
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