Posted on: November 21, 2023, 10:36h.
Last updated on: November 21, 2023, 11:42h.
Christmas came early for football fans in Pittsburgh. The low-scoring Steelers finally fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada after an ugly 13-10 divisional loss against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Fans were worried that the Steelers would retain the inept Canada for the remainder of this season, and even next season.
The Steelers’ front office is often seen as being too loyal to a fault, and the organization has a reputation for never firing a coach during the season. This year, however, fans had been chanting “Fire Canada!” since the first home game of the season at Heinz Field. The ire was so prevalent that fans at Pittsburgh Penguins hockey games were chanting “Fire Canada!” during home games at PPG Paints Arena.
The situation had become so dire that the Steelers bucked their own tradition and fired Canada.
Matt Canada has been relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator, “ said head coach Mike Tomlin said in an official statement. “I appreciate Matt’s hard work and dedication, and I wish him the best moving forward in his career.”
The Steelers are 6-4 this season and hold down second place in the AFC North behind the Baltimore Ravens (7-3). If the season ended today, the Steelers would secure the final AFC wild card. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills are on the playoff bubble and have gone 1-0 since they fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey after a disastrous loss on Monday Night Football in Week 10.
Blame Canada: Steelers’ Offensive Struggles
The Steelers average 16.6 points per game, which is ranked #28 in the NFL. They’re ranked #31 in passing touchdowns, and #29 in total touchdowns this season.
The Steelers scored more than 21 points in a game only four times this season. They scored 10 or fewer points in four games.
The Steelers’ tepid passing attack generated 170 yards per game, which was the second-worst in the NFL. In 10 games this season, quarterback Kenny Pickett has only six touchdown passes. Pickett tossed one touchdown in the last five games.
Canada took over as the offensive coordinator in 2021. The Steelers averaged 22 points per game in the first season under Canada, but their predictable and unimaginative offense has gotten worse every season since then. Their offensive production dipped last season to 18.1 points per game, and they were ranked the sixth-worst in the NFL.
The Steelers have a winning record thanks to a solid defense that kept them in almost every game. Seven games this season were decided by one score. The Steelers were outgained in every game this season. They have a negative point differential of -29, yet miraculously have a winning record.
Tomlin remained loyal to Canada throughout the first half of the season. He attempted to address the issue by moving Canada from the skybox booth to the sidelines in Week 9 in an effort to get him closer to the action. The Steelers won their next two games, but averaged only 21.5 points per game against losing squads (the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers).
An interim offensive coordinator has yet to be named. But candidates include quarterbacks coach Mile Sullivan and running backs coach Eddie Faulkner.
Betting the Steelers Going Forward
The Steelers head to Cincinnati to play the Bengals in Week 12 in another divisional throw down. The Bengals recently lost quarterback Joe Burrow to a season-ending wrist injury. For the second week in a row, and the third time in the last four games, the Steelers will play against a backup quarterback.
The Titans started rookie Will Levis in Week 9 against the Steelers after Ryan Tannehill sustained an ankle injury. The defense held Levis to 16 points in a victory. Last week, Dorian Thompson-Robinson started for the Browns after Deshaun Watson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Despite limiting the Browns to 13 points, the Steelers offense mustered up only 10 points in a last-second loss.
The Bengals are a +1 home underdog against the Steelers on Sunday. The Steelers are 6-4 against the point spread this season, and the Bengals have a 4-5-1 ATS record.
Canada’s dismissal didn’t alter the futures market. The Steelers are still +7500 odds to win the Super Bowl, and +3500 odds to win the AFC Championship.
The Ravens are the consensus favorite to win the AFC North at -225 odds, followed by the Browns (+275), Steelers (+550), and Bengals (+10000).
The Steelers have a 69% chance to make the postseason, according to an updated playoff projection by Upshot. They also have a 15% chance to secure the division crown, and a 2% chance to win the Super Bowl.
The Steelers are -135 odds to make the playoffs, and +110 odds to miss the postseason.