Mike Tomlin said he "wasn't opposed" to hiring a quarterbacks coach in his year-end press conference at the Rooney Complex.
Wednesday, the Steelers confirmed that notion, hiring Matt Canada as the team's quarterbacks coach, their first such assistant since Randy Fichtner took over as offensive coordinator in 2018. In Fichtner's two years at the helm of the offense, he's served as both quarterbacks coach and coordinator.
Now, he'll breathe a little easier with Canada assuming the former duties.
If the name sounds familiar, it should, as Canada served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Pitt Panthers in 2016. That year, the team averaged 42 points per game (a school record) and led the nation in red zone touchdown percentage at 82 percent. Specifically, quarterback Nathan Peterman threw for a career-best 2,855 yards and 27 touchdowns while lowering his interceptions from eight to seven from the previous year as a full-time starter.
Aside from Pitt, Canada served as LSU's offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2017, orchestrating an efficient season for quarterback Danny Etling, who threw 16 touchdowns against just two picks on the year.
Previously, from 2013-2015, Canada worked in the same capacity at North Carolina State, where Jacoby Brissett threw 43 touchdowns and 11 picks in a two-year span under his direction. In 2015 specifically, NC State finished third in the ACC in scoring offense.
The Steelers, of course, needed Canada's services last year.
Ben Roethlisberger went down to a season-ending elbow injury in Week 2, and from there, the quarterback play suffered immensely. Mason Rudolph started eight games and appeared in 10 total, throwing for 1,765 yards with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Those 1,765 yards were the fewest by a Steelers starter sinceMike Tomczak threw for 1,625 yards in 1999.
Backing up Rudolph was Devlin "Duck" Hodges, a fourth-stringer who was cut after training camp but found his way back to the squad when they traded Josh Dobbs to the Jaguars in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round pick. And while Hodges became the first undrafted rookie quarterback to win his first three starts, the underdog story posted an ugly conclusion, as Hodges went 0-3 in his final three starts, losing to the Bills, Jets and Ravens in succession. During that stretch, Hodges threw just one touchdown against six interceptions.
The Steelers can't go back in time to see what Canada could've done with Rudolph and Hodges last season, but they did the next best thing in preparing for the future.
I like the hire, and it will become doubly interesting when Roethlisberger re-enters the mix.