Steelers coaching decisions, including OC Matt Canada position, on hold: Sources

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

It turns out that there is a reason for the delay.

Decisions regarding personnel have been put on hold as head coach Mike Tomlin focuses on a personal matter, according to two members of the organization who were not authorized to speak publicly. One person said 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.

Historically, Tomlin would not hold exit meetings with all players until long after the season ended, and would not make any staff changes for a long time thereafter. Tomlin indicated during his final news conference last week that he was taking his time evaluating his team after the Steelers finished with seven wins in their last nine games and missed the playoffs.

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The Steelers’ offense sees an uptick, but will it be enough to save Matt Canada’s job?

The Canadian has been at the Steelers’ facility both last week and this week, according to another team employee. The evaluation of the coaching staff can begin at the earliest.

It is rare that Tomlin’s coaching staff has remained the same from year to year. The last time this was done was after the 2016 season. Tomlin held onto his original staff for the first three years of his career, but since then 27 assistant coaches have either been fired, retired, or had their contracts not renewed.

With a small staff and the same head coach for 16 seasons, it has relatively high turnover from year to year.

Canada could be the next country to join that list.

The much-loved coordinator is still under contract for one more season and the Steelers typically avoid firing coaches. Speaking last week, Tomlin gave credit to Canada for making improvements but stopped short of welcoming it back.

“I think as our team has gotten better, he has gotten better,” Tomlin said. “I’m standing here today, I’m not going to speculate about them or anybody. … I’m not there yet. We have some work to do, but broadly I thought the way we He got better, he got better, so it was encouraging.

Canada’s assessment is a difficult one for Tomlin.

Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett struggled in the first half of the season, but looked better in the second half. There is always the fear of a system change setting Pickett back, or if Canada returns and the offense remains conservative as it was 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 just eight times. In 34 games under Canada, the Steelers have scored 30 or more points only twice.

It is unknown when Tomlin will begin evaluating his coaching staff, but now is the time.

Five head-coaching jobs and six offensive coordinator positions on teams that don’t need new head coaches remain open in the league, which could limit candidates to choose from if Tomlin decides to switch to Canada. Per reports, Kliff Kingsbury has no interest in coaching this year, and Jim Caldwell is only looking for head-coaching opportunities.

Names such as Frank Reich, Nathaniel Hackett, Joe Brady, Mark Whipple, Brian Johnson and Byron Leftwich (if he is fired to Tampa Bay) have been floated for the Steelers. In-house candidates to replace Canada if the organization decides to make a 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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