The Athletic

Steelers coaching decisions, including OC Matt Canada status, pending: Sources

PITTSBURGH — It’s been just over a week since the Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs, yet no news has emerged on the future of the team’s coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Matt Canada. of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Turns out there’s a reason for the delay.

Personnel decisions have been put on hold, according to two members of the organization who were not authorized to speak publicly because head coach Mike Tomlin was handling a personal matter. Player exit meetings, which are expected to begin this week, will be held virtually for those who have left town since the end of the season, one person said.

Historically, Tomlin would have exit meetings with all players shortly after the end of the season and then make personnel changes soon after. Tomlin hinted at his final press conference last week that he would take his time evaluating his team after the Steelers finished with seven wins in their last nine games and narrowly missed the playoffs.

GO FURTHER

The Steelers offense has grown, but will that be enough to save Matt Canada’s job?

Canada was at the Steelers facility last week and this week, according to another team employee. Evaluation of the coaching staff could start sooner rather than later.

It has been rare for Tomlin’s coaching staff to remain intact from year to year. The last time was after the 2016 season. Tomlin kept his original team for the first three years of his career, but since then 27 assistant coaches have been fired, retired or not renewed. contract.

With a small roster and the same head coach for 16 seasons, that’s a relatively high turnover from year to year.

Canada could be the next to join this list.

The much-maligned coordinator is still under contract for one more season and the Steelers are generally reluctant to fire coaches. Speaking last week, Tomlin credited Canada for making improvements but failed to welcome him back.

“I thought he got better just like our team got better,” Tomlin said. “I’m not going to speculate on him or anyone as I stand here today. … I’m just not there. We have work to do, but for the most part I thought he improved the same way we improved, so that was encouraging.

Canada’s assessment is tricky for Tomlin.

The offense struggled with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett for the first half of the season, but improved in the second half. There is always the fear of rolling Pickett back by changing the system, or if Canada returns and the offense remains conservative as it did last year.

In 13 of 17 games, the Steelers gained more than 300 yards, but they scored 30 points only once and at least 20 points only eight times. In 34 games under Canada, the Steelers have only scored 30 or more points twice.

It’s unclear when Tomlin will begin evaluating his coaching staff, but there is still time.

Five head coaching positions and six offensive coordinator positions on teams that don’t need new head coaches remain open in the league, which could limit the choice of candidates if Tomlin decides to replace Canada. According to reports, Kliff Kingsbury is not interested in coaching this year and Jim Caldwell is only looking for head coaching opportunities.

Names like Frank Reich, Nathaniel Hackett, Joe Brady, Mark Whipple, Brian Johnson and Byron Leftwich (if returned to Tampa Bay) have been thrown around for the Steelers. Internal candidates to replace Canada if the organization decides to move include running backs coach Eddie Faulkner and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan.

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(Photo: Tommy Gilligan/USA Today)

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