The Pittsburgh Steelers have fired embattled offensive coordinator Matt Canada amid the team’s respectable 6-4 start.
Struggling Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett was just 15 of 28 for 106 yards in Sunday’s 13-10 loss to the rival Cleveland Browns.
The Steelers currently rank 28th in offensive at just 283.6 yards a game – worse than all but four NFL teams.
Canada has taken the brunt of the criticism as the weeks pass and Pittsburgh continues to sputter, the truth is there is plenty of blame to go around.
The offensive line couldn't contain Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. Canada's play calls - such as a first-quarter swing pass to running back Jaylen Warren in which no player in an orange helmet seemed the least bit fooled - flip-flopped between bizarre and ineffective.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have fired embattled offensive coordinator Matt Canada (pictured)
And Pickett seemed to act as if there was a forcefield 15 yards downfield, opting for short and (in theory) safe throws that went nowhere. He didn't top 100 yards passing until the game's final snap and has two touchdown passes since the calendar flipped to October.
Tomlin has steadfastly protected the former Pitt star since promoting him to the starting job a month into the 2022 season. He has pointed to the intangibles Pickett provides - toughness and grit chief among them - as proof of progress even as Pickett's numbers hint that just the opposite is true.
There was no scoreboard to hide behind on Sunday. No magic in the final moments that "Fourth Quarter Kenny" has summoned semi-regularly (if always briefly) to avert disaster.
Instead, the Steelers were exposed yet again by a team in playoff contention, this one an AFC North rival that happened to have a rookie quarterback at the controls.
Squint and there's no reason to panic. The upcoming schedule looks manageable, particularly with Bengals star Joe Burrow out for the rest of the season.
Yet at some point, the Steelers will need to look like a playoff team when the offense is on the field. They haven't for any sustained stretch since the height of the "Killer B" era led by Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell in the mid-2010s.
Pickett continues to say all the right things. And plenty of long-term NFL starters have needed more than 22 games to find themselves.
Yet most of those starters didn't play on a team with a top-10 scoring defense that features potential Hall of Famers at all three levels, a defense built to win right now.
That’s part of the frustration that’s starting to creep in.
Pittsburgh doesn’t need Pickett to turn into Patrick Mahomes, but a little sustained competence would go a long way. The list of players with more touchdown passes this season than the six Pickett has mustered through 10 games include Bryce Young, Jimmy Garoppolo and Mac Jones.