The firing of much-maligned offensive coordinator Matt Canada in Pittsburgh came as a relief to Steelers fans — but the Steelers players are going to have to show that head coach Mike Tomlin made the right call.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett is one player who will have a lot to prove now that Canada is no longer around to take all the blame in Pittsburgh. The second-year signal-caller spoke to the media on Wednesday, and he explained how he took Canada’s firing after two-and-a-half seasons.
Pickett: Canada’s firing is a challenge to everybody
Pickett said the Steelers are embracing the challenge under new offensive coordinator Eddie Faulkner — and the quarterback took it personally that Canada lost his job due to Pittsburgh‘s lack of execution.
“I feel like you have to take it personal,” Pickett said. “It’s a guy you’ve worked with since I got drafted here, you want to play great, you don’t want to see anyone get let go like that.”
Pickett, the Steelers‘ first-round pick in 2022, avoided gratuitous turnovers in Canada’s conservative offense. But Pittsburgh has the NFL‘s fifth-worst scoring offense and produced only 249 yards of offense against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday — the sixth time this season that the Pickett-led offense hasn’t been able to generate 300 yards in a game.
“We have to answer the bell, find out what we need to do to play better and then just go take care of business,” Pickett said.
Will the Steelers’ offense begin producing points?
The Steelers hope Faulkner‘s influence on Pickett and the offense will be seen as early as this Sunday, when Pittsburgh faces another AFC North foe in the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals‘ trajectory for 2023 changed dramatically followng the season-ending wrist injury to star quarterback Joe Burrow, so this could be a good opportunity for Pittsburgh to win consecutive games in Cincinnati for the first time since 2019. However, Pickett will need to show a capacity to throw the ball downfield with confidence as well as accuracy.
Another loss for the Steelers on Sunday would significantly impact their standing in the crowded AFC playoff picture — in which their presence this season has already been a surprise.