The Pittsburgh Steelers offense and defense coordinators should be thankful for one thing this Thanksgiving
The Steelers will enter Week 12 with just 3-7. It’s safe to say I’m a little surprised at how poorly the Steelers team fared. Coming into the season I’d thought that even with Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett leading the way, I couldn’t imagine the Steelers having such a significant drop after making the playoffs a year ago.
After all, the offensive line should at least be improved a bit. The Steelers had added Myles Jack to improve the linebacker squad and replaced Stephon Tuitt (who hasn’t played an iota of football last season) with Larry Ogunjobi, who should have strengthened the defensive line.
Yet here we are, more than halfway through the season, with an almost 0% chance of even being in the hunt for a wildcard. Both offense and defense significantly underperformed, so I think both Teryl Austin and Matt Canada should be thankful that they’re still on their coordinator jobs this Thanksgiving.
The defense was a bigger disappointment than the offense
Although I’ll be the first to say that technically defense is still this team’s strength. The fact that the defensive lineup has improved in terms of talent on paper while performing so much worse than last season comes as a shock.
I knew the defense would be different from Keith Butler to Teryl Austin. I couldn’t have imagined her playing so much worse. It’s not a talent question. The fact of the matter is, the defensive game plans that came into the games were terrible, aside from wins over the Saints and Buccaneers. Even worse is the fact that the defense couldn’t make any adjustments at half-time.
Teryl Austin is overwhelmed as defensive coordinator. As a defensive backs coach, he was anything but average. Minkah Fitzpatrick is a special player, Terrell Edmunds is solid, and Cam Sutton is the only cornerback aside from Mike Hilton that the Steelers have developed in the past decade. This should have at least given the forces an inkling of how unsuitable Austin would be for the job. Improving the defensive backfield had a lot less to do with Teryl Austin and more to do with making the wise move to trade for Minkah in 2019.
Tomlin should never have given up defensive playcalling duties either, having done a great job last season. The Steelers defense lost the Week 11 game to the Bengals. I understand the offense went missing in the second half, but earlier this season the expectation was that if the Steelers could score 30 points, they should win the game.
Matt Canada should have been fired at bye week
While I understand the trepidation that comes with changing offensive coordinators midseason with a starting rookie quarterback, Canada is terrible. I was hoping his offense would work this season with a quarterback that would fit his plan. However, Canada’s offense was largely ineffective. I have come to the Canadian defense several times and pointed out the poor offensive play. I mean, at one point in Week 11, the Bengals had a pass rusher that was untouched by Kenny Pickett, and Trey Hendrickson still beat Dan Moore and got to Pickett before the free rusher.
At some point, however, the offensive coordinator finds that his plan isn’t working with this current roster. Additionally, Canada should be formulating game plans at this point to help the offensive line. Two sets of tight ends should be a staple on this offensive right now. The use of Gentry and Freiermuth in the passing game with chipping edge rushers should be the standard at this point.
Slopes, crossing patterns and towing routes should also be a staple. Pass catchers should cross the middle of the field on each play, giving Pickett a chance to get rid of the ball quickly while putting pass catchers in his field of view, which in theory should make reading a little easier.
Canada’s failure to adjust its game plan to cover up the Steelers’ greatest weakness, the offensive line, is simply inexcusable. It’s safe to say that nobody expected much from offense this season given that it’s their first year without Big Ben and the offensive line is in the midst of a rebuild. However, the fact that the offensive is such a huge disappointment, even with low expectations, makes the thought of Canada as offensive coordinator next year unlikely.