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Matt Canada

Steelers staying the course with embattled offensive coordinator

For better or for worse, the Steelers apparently are sticking with offensive coordinator Matt Canada. So says a report in an area newspaper.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Steelers have decided to keep Canada, who’s been heavily criticized for most of his two years on the job. At the halfway point of the just-completed season, it was considered a near-certainty that he would be fired.

But the Steelers did enough down the stretch, apparently, that they’re going to stick with Canada for another season.

The running game in particular came on nicely. It’s been a disaster in recent years, but they were able to get it synced up in the second half of the season. The Steelers averaged only 88 rushing yards in their first seven games, bumbling along at 3.7 yards per carry. But they moved up to 146 yards per week in their final 10 games, and with 12 rushing touchdowns.

As well as the Steelers played in the second half of the season, I would think about making Najee Harris one of the first five running backs selected in fantasy drafts next summer. He’s got some Derrick Henry in his game.

In the chart below, the final column shows fantasy production, using 6 points for touchdowns and 1 for every 10 rushing yards.

RUSHING PRODUCTION PER WEEK (last 10 G)
TeamAttYardsAvgTDPts/G
Philadelphia29914624.891825.4
Dallas33514464.321825.3
Chicago31617475.531124.1
San Francisco31515154.811423.6
Buffalo28415255.371222.5
Carolina33214954.501222.2
Pittsburgh33414584.371221.8
Baltimore32516265.00821.1
Atlanta32816204.94821.0
Detroit29712234.121420.6
NY Giants28513054.581220.3
Green Bay28813414.66918.8
Kansas City25012194.881118.8
Cleveland31013454.34717.7
Washington35714043.93617.6
LA Rams26411824.48917.2
Indianapolis27912994.66616.6
Cincinnati2479944.021116.5
Denver26111694.48816.5
Tennessee26711654.36816.5
Jacksonville25811544.47816.3
Las Vegas27312504.58616.1
Miami23710884.59815.7
Arizona24310204.20815.0
LA Chargers2379023.81914.4
Seattle25110834.31513.8
Minnesota2389013.79813.8
New Orleans2739883.62412.3
New England2289544.18311.3
NY Jets2298673.79411.1
Houston2428293.43410.7
Tampa Bay2388573.60310.4

In the first seven games of the season, only five teams finished with lesser rushing production than the Steelers.

RUSHING PRODUCTION PER WEEK (first 7 G)
TeamAttYardsAvgTDPts/G
Philadelphia24510474.271418.9
Cleveland22211455.161218.7
NY Giants23512145.17917.5
Chicago24212675.24716.9
Atlanta23110984.75916.4
Detroit1839565.22915.0
New Orleans1929945.18814.7
Baltimore20110945.44614.5
Tennessee2209664.39814.5
Jacksonville1909625.06814.4
New England1978584.36914.0
Seattle1749595.51713.8
Minnesota1667604.581013.6
NY Jets1768194.65913.6
Arizona1918534.47712.7
Dallas1968524.35612.1
San Francisco1898454.47612.1
Kansas City1677514.50711.7
Las Vegas1558095.22611.7
Buffalo1738604.97411.0
LA Chargers1676223.7269.8
Carolina1517154.7449.6
Green Bay1687724.6039.5
Denver1837664.1939.5
Washington1817394.0839.2
Cincinnati1736123.5459.1
Pittsburgh1666153.7048.6
LA Rams1474793.2668.4
Miami1535983.9148.4
Houston1566474.1538.3
Indianapolis1605673.5426.9
Tampa Bay1484513.0525.7

I have less confidence in Matt Canada’s ability to mold Kenny Pickett into a viable quarterback next year. Pickett looks like a solid-enough long-term prospect, pulling out late-season wins against the Raiders and Ravens with last-minute touchdown drives.

But the numbers haven’t come yet. Pickett played 10 full games as a rookie, and he averaged 222 passing yards in those weeks, with 6 TDs and 6 interceptions. He has not yet thrown 2 TD passes in a pro football game.

The Steelers have a nice trio of pass catchers, with Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth. (Considering the team’s history, they’ll probably select another wide receiver in the second or third round to develop behind those guys.) But the passing game in general hasn’t gotten off the ground yet, with too many low-impact completions around the line of scrimmage.

If I were drafting a 2023 team today, I would think Pickett would be a modest second quarterback in a 12-team league. He’s one of the top 24, but I don’t think Canada has much chance of maybe turning him into a top-10 stats guy for the upcoming season.

KENNY PICKETT'S 10 FULL GAMES
OppResultComAttYdsTDIntRushing
at Buff.L 3-383452327011-10-0
at Mia.L 10-163244257133-20-0
at Phil.L 13-352538191017-37-0
N.O.W 20-101830199008-51-1
Cin.L 30-372542265102-14-0
at Ind.W 24-172028174006-32-0
at Atl.W 19-161628197107-14-0
L.V.W 13-102639244113-9-0
at Balt.W 16-131527168105-2-0
Cle.W 28-141329195103-1-0

—Ian Allan

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