(Photo credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada was fired on Tuesday after piloting Pittsburgh to averages of 16.6 points and 280.1 yards in the first 10 games of the 2023 season.
Pittsburgh (6-4) is 31st in passing and No. 28 in the NFL in points and yards per games.
"Matt Canada has been relievedof his duties as offensive coordinator. I appreciate Matt's hard work and dedication and I wish him the best moving forward in his career," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement Tuesday.
Tomlin expanded on the firing to reporters midday Tuesday.
"I did not come to this decision lightly to be honest with you. It is my role to absorb and protect those that I work with. This doesn't feel like that," Tomlin said. "I'm not one to assign (blame), I'm more comfortable absorbing. Just rest assured this decision wasn't taken lightly but I thought it was necessary.
""I've got a lot of respect personally and professionally for Matt, and this was not an easy decision...There's a lot of layers to it. I just think you know when you're there. Not to take it flippantly. You just know when you're there, the totality of it."
When asked who was involved in making the decision, Tomlin said, "It was mine and mine alone."
Canada became offensive coordinator in 2021 and was tasked with leading the Steelers' transition from Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. Pittsburgh's first-round pick in 2021 was Najee Harris, who was one of loudest voices suggesting a change was necessary on Sunday. Wide receiver George Pickens has been vocal about his own frustration this month.
Tomlin had resisted calls for Canada to be replaced, denying that a change would bring the fix fans and some in the media were clamoring for as the Steelers were outgained in total yards in every game.
Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan are being promoted to a co-op role at offensive coordinator.
"From a play caller perspective, the bulk of that will fall on Mike Sullivan," Tomlin said. "He has tangible experience; I'm sure that will be helpful. ...The unknown component is a potential positive so we're going to hold our cards close to our chest."
Tomlin did not address any specific mandate or direction he'll steer the offense in, but wasn't bashful about the common goal.
"I just want to see points. I want to engineer victory more fluidly. Points do that," he said.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett is 25th in the NFL in passing yards and is among a group tied at 28th -- it includes benched Jets QB Zach Wilson and Desmond Ridder of the Falcons -- with six TD passes.
Harris is 13th in the AFC -- one spot ahead of teammate Jaylen Warren -- with 499 rushing yards this season. He's tied for 23rd in the NFL with former Steelers running back James Conner (Cardinals), who was recently activated from injured reserve.
"You could do two things," Harris said. "You could look at the record and say, 'OK, we're still good right now.' Or we could look at the record and be like, 'If we keep playing this type of football, how long is that s-- going to last?' I look at it like, 'How long that s-- going to last?' Y'all could look at it like it's a good record, but I mean it's the NFL. Winning how we did, it's not going to get us nowhere."
Canada, 51, was the Steelers' quarterbacks coach for one season before becoming offensive coordinator.
Pittsburgh will meet the Bengals on Sunday in Cincinnati.
--Field Level Media