Matt Canada

Latest On Steelers’ OC Situation

After Matt Canada spent Monday preparing for the Steelers’ Week 12 game against the Bengals, Mike Tomlin informed him Tuesday morning he would not finish out his third season as offensive coordinator. This marked historically rare territory for the Steelers, who had not fired a head coach or coordinator in-season in 82 years.

Steelers players had voiced frustrations about the offense for weeks behind the scenes, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini, and Najee Harris‘ public comments came days before Canada’s ouster (subscription required). While the team was united on keeping Canada during September and October, the run of poor performances on offense eventually led to the course change.

Regarding whose call this truly was, conflicting reports have come out. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac indicated Art Rooney II made this decision, while Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he was behind the call. The 17th-year coach taking responsibility is certainly on-brand, though The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly expresses doubt Tomlin truly decided to break with tradition and fire Canada. That said, Russini offers that it was indeed the veteran HC’s decision — after multiple discussions with Rooney — that produced the shakeup.

Calls for Canada’s firing came down last year and intensified this season. Tomlin gave Canada a third year, doing so after Kenny Pickett showed some promise late last season. The 2022 first-round pick has struggled this year and will enter Week 12 with just seven touchdown passes. The Steelers have been outgained in all 10 of their games, and they have not produced a 400-yard offensive game since Week 2 of the 2020 season.

Pickett’s close relationship with QBs coach and new play-caller Mike Sullivan did not affect this decision, Tomlin said. Sullivan worked as mostly a non-play-calling OC during his two-season Giants tenure. Though, he finished the 2017 campaign calling the shots for the Eli Manning-piloted offense, with Ben McAdoo being fired late in that season. Sullivan called plays for the Buccaneers from 2012-13. As the wheels began to come off for Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay ranked 13th and 30th offensively during Sullivan’s two seasons; the second came as the team transitioned to rookie Mike Glennon at QB.

The Steelers promoted their QBs coach to OC in 2021 (Canada) and 2018 (Randy Fichtner). Todd Haley was the team’s last outside hire for the position. Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner is the interim OC, though his lack of play-calling responsibilities do not point to long-term consideration here. Sullivan would seem the likelier candidate for the gig, based on his role and the team’s history. If the Steelers opt to go outside the organization, Kaboly adds Byron Leftwich has expressed interest in the job. The former Bucs OC made his interest known before Canada’s firing.

Leftwich would technically be an outside hire, but he has a past with the Steelers. He served as a Ben Roethlisberger reserve in 2008 and from 2010-12, joining longtime backup Charlie Batch in a deep QB room. Leftwich made one start for the Steelers, in 2012. The former QB spent four seasons as Tampa Bay’s OC. Despite Bruce Arians being an offense-oriented HC, he gave Leftwich the play-calling reins. This setup helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl in Tom Brady‘s first season and the ageless legend led the NFL in TD passes (43) and yards (5,316) in 2021. Brady and Todd Bowles expressed dissatisfaction with Leftwich last season, however, and the Bucs canned him in January.

Leftwich, 43, interviewed for the Ravens’ OC job this offseason but is not currently coaching. Although Rooney may or may not have insisted Tomlin fire Canada, Dulac adds the longtime HC will be the one who selects the next OC. Though, ownership will obviously need to approve Tomlin’s pick.

Steelers Fire OC Matt Canada

Matt Canada will not be given an opportunity to close out a third season as Steelers offensive coordinator. While Canada had long been expected to be fired after this season, Mike Tomlin instead informed the third-year OC of an in-season dismissal Tuesday morning.

The Steelers will pivot to a co-OC setup of sorts to replace Canada, 51. Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner will take over in the coordinator role, according to’s Tom Pelissero, who adds quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan will move into the play-calling role. Tomlin is not believed to have made the final call here, with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac reporting owner Art Rooney II insisted this move be made. That being the case would add intrigue to a Steelers offensive situation that has been one of the NFL’s worst for years, though Tomlin (via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly) has since said he made the call.

Sullivan has been an OC with the Giants and Buccaneers previously; he has been with the Steelers since 2021, Canada’s first OC season. Faulkner has been in place as Pittsburgh’s RBs coach since 2019. Faulkner, 46, will play a lead role in game planning, per’s Mike Garafolo. But Sullivan, 56, will be the assistant given headset responsibilities.

The Steelers are 6-4, but their offense has struggled throughout Canada’s third season. Pittsburgh holds a minus-29 point differential, being in the historically strange position of holding an over-.500 record after having been outgained in each of its 10 games this season. Canada’s struggles predate this year as well. The Steelers have not produced a 400-yard offensive game since the 2020 season, Randy Fichtner‘s last as OC.

The team’s 249-yard outing in Cleveland represented its 58th straight game coming in below 400 yards. The Steelers’ most recent such outing came in Week 2 of the 2020 season. Kenny Pickett, who completed 15 passes for just 106 yards against the Browns’ menacing pass defense in Week 11, has not taken a step forward in his second season. The 2022 first-rounder’s status is secure for the time being, but the Pitt product may soon be on the clock as well.

Prior to the Browns matchup, Canada had been expected to be given a chance to foster Pickett improvement to close out the season. Tomlin kept Canada on as OC — to the chagrin of many — after Pickett put together a promising stretch to close out a statistically unimpressive rookie season. Instead, this will be the first Steelers OC in-season coordinator removal since Bill Cowher relieved Ray Sherman of play-calling duties during the 1998 slate. That was not technically a firing, since Sherman finished out the season in a lesser role. This will mark rare territory for the old-school franchise. But the Steelers have been a defense-dependent outfit for years, transitioning from the “Killer B’s” era to a period of low-octane offense that has encompassed most of the 2020s.

Tomlin initially hired Canada as quarterbacks coach in 2020, but the longtime HC did not renew Fichtner’s contract for the 2021 season, promoting the ex-Maryland leader ahead of Ben Roethlisberger‘s final season. This marked Canada’s first NFL coaching gig. Prior to joining the NFL ranks, Canada had been an OC at seven schools (Indiana, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, NC State, Pitt, LSU, Maryland) from 2007-18. Finishing his Maryland tenure as interim HC amid a scandal involving former HC D.J. Durkin, Canada surfaced with the Steelers despite not coaching during the 2019 season.

While it could certainly be fair to say Canada did not have an above-average quarterback during his tenure, Tomlin will aim to see if someone else can coax better Pickett play. Roethlisberger was a shell of his Hall of Fame version by the time Canada took over, and Mitch Trubisky did not inspire confidence to start last season. Pickett, however, has flatlined during this year’s opening stretch. Pickett ranks 28th in QBR and has managed only six touchdown passes in 10 games. He finished his rookie season with seven in 13 contests. The in-state product’s yards per attempt (6.1) and completion percentage (60.5) figures are down from 2022 as well.

As a team, the Steelers rank 29th with 14 touchdowns this season. They only put up 30 points twice during Canada’s OC tenure, and this edition ranks 31st with 170 passing yards per game. Although the team missed Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth for extended spans this season, Pickett’s slow development predated those injuries. The Steelers have also enjoyed quality health along their offensive line throughout Pickett’s tenure.

This still figures to be an uphill battle for Faulkner and Sullivan, with the 2024 offseason likely to serve as a pivotal Pickett point. But the team will attempt to salvage what could still be a playoff season. Tomlin famously has never had a losing season, and the historically high-floor operation will reassemble pieces to keep that streak going.

Sullivan’s OC opportunities came from 2012-13 (Tampa Bay) and from 2016-17 (New York). Sullivan previously ran the Bucs’ offense during Greg Schiano‘s HC tenure, which covered the end of Josh Freeman‘s run and a handful of starts from then-rookie Mike Glennon. After the Giants received the last of Odell Beckham Jr.‘s dominant seasons in 2016, they struggled amid injuries in 2017. While the team fired Ben McAdoo late in the ’17 campaign, Sullivan finished that season. He was out of football for two seasons following the 2018 slate, which he spent as the Broncos’ QBs coach.

Faulkner and Canada had worked together in the college ranks, with Faulkner following Canada from Northern Illinois to Wisconsin. Faulkner spent six seasons at NC State, being on staff at the ACC program before Canada. Faulkner handled a number of duties with the Wolfpack, but he was last a coordinator during a two-year stay (2009-10) at Ball State. Sullivan will bring 22 years’ worth of NFL assistant experience to his new role, while Faulkner joined Canada in having never coached in the pros until Tomlin offered him a job.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Steelers, Chubb

The Bengals and Steelers were not among the teams who made deals at the trade deadline, but each contender looked into buyer’s moves on defense. Specifically, the AFC North rivals were among the teams to pursue cornerback help, Jeremy Fowler of notes. Both the 49ers and Bills discussed Jaylon Johnson with the Bears, and Buffalo ended up parting with a third-round pick (in a pick-swap move) to obtain Green Bay’s Rasul Douglas. That marked the only move for a corner at the deadline, though the Chargers did send J.C. Jackson to the Patriots in early October.

Chidobe Awuzie‘s return from ACL surgery has not resulted in the veteran regaining his form, and the Bengals have used younger corners Cam Taylor-Britt and DJ Turner as their starters alongside slot Mike Hilton in recent weeks. Pro Football Focus does not grade any of Cincy’s corners in the top 60 at the position. The Bengals rank 25th against the pass. More reliant on their defense without a Joe Burrow-like pilot on offense, the Steelers sit 27th. Joey Porter Jr. has replaced Levi Wallace opposite Patrick Peterson, who is in his age-33 season. With Wallace, Peterson and Chandon Sullivan short-term fixes, Porter represents Pittsburgh’s only long-term cog here post-Cameron Sutton.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Joe Burrow has improved since the summer calf injury significantly restricted him early this season, but ahead of a pivotal Thursday-night matchup against the Ravens, the superstar Bengals QB was spotted wearing a brace or sleeve on his throwing hand. The Bengals shared video of their arrival in Baltimore but later deleted the tweet, though WCPO’s Caleb Noe spotted the fourth-year passer with the brace. This may not be especially important, as Burrow has not missed an NFL game due to injury since his rookie-year ACL tear. Seeing as the Bengals did not disclose a Burrow hand injury and deleted a video that may indicate one, this is worth monitoring.
  • The Steelers are 6-3 despite being outgained in all nine games this season. Kenny Pickett ranks 28th in QBR, and while he has been without Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth for extended stretches, the 2022 first-round pick has not shown tremendous progress in Year 2. The subject of Matt Canada‘s job security continues to come up, after Mike Tomlin gave him a third year following Pickett progress late last season. With the offense still a chief concern in Pittsburgh, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly does not expect Canada to be retained for a fourth year. That said, the veteran reporter indicates (subscription required) a dramatic Pickett improvement would be Canada’s vehicle to staying. If Canada is let go, he will be the second three-and-done Steelers OC. The team initially promoted Canada from within to replace Randy Fichtner in 2021.
  • On the subject of Steelers assistants, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac notes the team did not offer Brian Flores a promotion opportunity to convince him to stay. The Steelers did not dangle their DC job to keep Flores, whom Tomlin hired as linebackers coach following a surprising Dolphins dismissal. Viewed as a way for Flores to reestablish his value amid an ongoing discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and select teams, the Steelers stint proved effective. Despite the ongoing suit, Flores interviewed for the Cardinals’ HC job and received steady DC interest ahead of his Vikings hire. Teryl Austin is in his second season as Pittsburgh’s DC but has been with the team since 2019.
  • Head Browns physician James Voos performed Nick Chubb‘s second ACL surgery, the Browns announced this week. The team revealed the operation was successful, and the procedure will put Chubb on track to return in 2024. While two knee surgeries at this juncture of his career will introduce some hurdles for Chubb, a 2024 return was previously floated out as realistic. Chubb’s three-year, $36.6MM contract runs through 2024.

Steelers Remain Committed To OC Matt Canada

The Steelers are currently on the bye, a time during which teams regularly make signficant coaching or personnel changes. None are expected to be made with respect to the coordinator in charge of Pittsburgh’s offense, however.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada still has the backing of head coach Mike Tomlin and Co., Dianna Russini of The Athletic reports (subscription required). As Russini adds, the Steelers would have already made a change regarding Canada if they had decided to move in a different direction. The latter will retain play-calling duties for the foreseeable future.

Canada was named as an OC who found himself on the hot seat last week, and speculation regarding his job security has continued for some time. Russini notes that the Steelers held a meeting to discuss the unit’s struggles, but that has not produced a change on the sidelines. In spite of that, Canada will still no doubt face pressure to deliver an improvement on what Pittsburgh has managed during his time at the helm to date.

The Steelers rank near the bottom of the league in several categories this season, and they have averaged just 15.8 points and less than 290 yards of offense per game. The passing and rushing attacks sit 26th and 30th, respectively, meaning the unit does not have one element to lean on to help mask the shortcomings of another. Injuries in the pass-catching corps and along the offensive line have been present in 2023, but as a whole quarterback Kenny Pickett and the players around him have fallen short of expectations.

Given the fact that Canada’s tenure (which began in 2021) has not yielded notable improvement with Pickett becoming more acclimated to the NFL, frustrations laid bare by the fans along with questions regarding his support from within the building have been understandable. At 3-2 on the strength of their defense, however, the Steelers are firmly in the running in the AFC North and the wild-card picture in the AFC as things currently stand.

Pittsburgh has a history of avoiding in-season coaching changes, so it comes as little surprise that Canada appears safe for the remainder of the campaign. As has been the case before, though, he will face plenty of scrutiny in the coming weeks with his long-term future in the organization a matter of speculation.

Steelers OC Matt Canada, Saints OC Pete Carmichael Could Be On Hot Seat

Last month, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addressed offensive coordinator Matt Canada‘s job status and noted that he would not make a “knee-jerk reaction” with respect to Canada’s position. Given that the Steelers generally refrain from making a major coaching move during the season, and since Canada was retained for 2023 to offer some continuity for second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett, it seemed reasonable to expect that the OC would at least finish out the year in Pittsburgh.

However, that may not be the case. While Tomlin again said several days ago that he would not be making a change “at this juncture,” sources close to the situation tell Ian Rapoport of that Canada could find himself on the hot seat if Pittsburgh’s offensive output does not improve.

Based on the offense’s performance under Canada to date, it is difficult to forecast such improvement. Since getting promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in 2021, Canada has been unable to coax much production out of his unit. The Steelers dropped from 22nd in points scored in 2021 to 24th in 2022, and while they jumped from 25th to 19th in total yards, the passing offense took a major step back.

Of course, there are always going to be growing pains with a young passer like Pickett. Nonetheless, it is easy to understand why the Steelers faithful are frustrated and have taken to gracing their team with “Fire Canada” chants. Pittsburgh presently ranks 29th in total offense, is averaging just 15.5 points per game, and is one of four teams that have scored fewer than ten points in multiple games in 2023. As a result, Canada could soon find himself on the wrong side of Steelers history; the last time the team made a significant in-season coaching shakeup was in 1998, when then-HC Bill Cowher removed then-OC Ray Sherman’s play-calling duties.

Like the Steelers, the Saints are averaging just 15.5 points per game, and according to Rapoport, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael is not necessarily a safe bet to make it through the end of the season. In fairness, New Orleans was 2-0 and was leading its Week 3 contest against the Packers 17-0 when a shoulder injury forced quarterback Derek Carr out of that game, which the team ultimately lost by an 18-17 score. Then, the Saints dropped a 26-9 decision to the Bucs in Week 4 while deploying a less-than-healthy Carr under center.

Still, even the Saints’ victories and near-victories have been earned largely on the strength of the defense, and they are just one of three teams that have scored fewer than 20 points in every game this season. Carmichael, a longtime Sean Payton lieutenant, has been New Orleans’ OC since 2009, so it would be somewhat jarring to see someone else in that role. But while HC Dennis Allen noted on October 2 that it was too soon to make a staff change, it sounds as if a change could be in the offing if there is no substantial improvement.

Steelers Won’t Make “Knee-Jerk Reactions” With OC Matt Canada

The Steelers offense has struggled mightily through the first two weeks of the 2023 season, leading fans at Acrisure Stadium to call for offensive coordinator Matt Canada‘s firing during Monday’s eventual win over the Browns. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged the offense’s struggles and admitted to hearing the fans’ “Fire Canada” chant, but he told reporters that he doesn’t envision making a change to his staff.

“We aren’t going to have knee-jerk reactions in terms of making wholesale changes to change that outcome, but we do acknowledge two is a pattern,” Tomlin said (via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic). “We’ve had two outings that are not up to snuff in that regard, so it has our attention.”

Through eight quarters, the Steelers offense has found the end zone as many times as the defense (twice). As Kaboly notes, the unit has had 12 three-and-outs on 25 drives, and the offense didn’t have one snap in the red zone during their win over Cleveland.

Naturally, the offense’s lack of success will be a reflection on Canada. Still, as Kaboly points out, it’d be unlike the organization to make a major coaching move during the season; the last time the Steelers made such a move was when Bill Cowher removed Ray Sherman’s play-calling duties during the 1998 campaign. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette echoes that sentiment, writing that it’d take “a lot” for Canada to get fired before the season ends.

You can’t blame the Pittsburgh faithful for being frustrated. Since getting promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in 2021, Canada hasn’t been able to guide the Steelers to even an above-average operation. The team dropped from 22nd in points score in 2021 to 24th in 2022, and while they jumped from 25th to 19th in total yards, the passing offense took a major step back.

Tomlin has continued to bring back Canada despite the underwhelming results, and the team retained him for 2023 with the idea that he’d offer some continuity to Kenny Pickett and the young offense. The Steelers coach hasn’t changed his tune, but he did admit that his staff has to do a better job of preparing the offense.

“It starts with coaching,” Tomlin said. “We have to coach better. We have to get these guys playing faster with more fluidity and surer. We have to play more coordinated, especially early in games. We have to anticipate the schematics of those we play against a little bit better. Displaying anticipation is a component of preparedness. We have to put them in really good circumstances, we have to recognize those circumstances and perform.”

Steelers To Retain OC Matt Canada

Although Matt Canada‘s Steelers OC stay has not produced a turnaround on offense, the Steelers continue to support him. It does not look like the team plans to move on.

The Steelers are expected to retain Canada, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Should this course of action commence, the increasingly unpopular play-caller will be going into his third season in this role. ESPN’s Brooke Pryor noted earlier this week momentum did not appear to exist for a Steelers change here (Twitter link). The Steelers have since confirmed Canada will stay.

Canada has now worked with three starting quarterbacks during his time in Pittsburgh. Following Ben Roethlisberger‘s retirement, the Steelers signed Mitch Trubisky. The Trubisky bridge did not last especially long, with the team making the shift to Kenny Pickett early in the season. Canada sticking around will give the young passer some early-career continuity, though Canada’s offense will likely need to improve in 2023 to open the door to a long-term partnership. One year remains on Canada’s contract, Dulac adds.

Hired as the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2020, after serving as OC for seven college programs from 2007-18, Canada took the OC reins from Randy Fichtner the following season. While the Steelers have regressed in scoring in each of the past three years, going from 12th to 21st to 26th, the team did improve in offensive DVOA this season. After ranking 25th in this metric during Roethlisberger’s final slate, the team slotted 18th during Pickett’s rookie season.

The Steelers finished .500 or better for a 19th straight season, extending Mike Tomlin‘s streak to 16 such years. Canada’s offense was far from potent; the team’s 28 offensive touchdowns were the third-fewest in the league. But Pickett showed progress down the stretch and will enter 2023 as the team’s unquestioned starter. QBR placed Pickett 20th, and the Pitt product piloted the team to six wins in his final seven starts. During that span, Pickett engineered back-to-back game-winning drives — over the Raiders and Ravens — to end the season on a higher note. While Pickett’s 7-to-9 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio (in 13 games) leaves much to be desired, the Steelers are not planning to shake things up early in the first-rounder’s career.

Diontae Johnson, whom the Steelers handed an $18MM-per-year extension late this past offseason, set an NFL record for most receptions (86) without a touchdown. But second-round rookie George Pickens emerged as a potential standout, hauling in 52 passes for 801 yards and four TDs. Pat Freiermuth also took a second-year leap. The Steelers could use another viable pass catcher, after trading Chase Claypool, and their offensive line — a unit chock full of midlevel investments or players on mid-round rookie deals — is certainly not a top-shelf quintet. It appears the team will aim at personnel upgrades rather than overhauling its scheme.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Pocic, Ravens

The Steelers are trending in the wrong direction to start the 2022 season, one which came with a number of questions on offense. After last week’s 38-3 loss to the Bills, though, no shake-up on the sidelines is expected.

When speaking to the media after the loss, head coach Mike Tomlin stated that he has been “highly involved” in the team’s offense, a unit led by Matt Canada. The latter has been the subject of plenty of scrutiny dating back to last season, his first as offensive coordinator. As Tomlin stressed, however, he will not make “changes for the sake of changes” with respect to the maligned play-caller (Twitter links via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor).

Through five weeks, Pittsburgh ranks 30th in the NFL in both yards (308.6) and points (15.4) per game. The underwhelming play of veteran signing Mitch Trubisky led to first-round rookie Kenny Pickett being installed as the starting quarterback, something which certainly didn’t produce the desired results in Week 5. He and the team face another tough matchup this Sunday against the Buccaneers.

Here are some other notes from around the AFC North:

  • Beside Tomlin, another high-profile coach who has had a hand in offensive game-planning has been Brian Flores. The former Dolphins head coach sat in on that unit’s meetings prior to the Steelers’ game against the Patriots, per SI’s Albert Breer. More generally, Breer notes, Flores has been operating as an “over-the-top assistant” with the offense, in addition to his primary responsibilities as LBs coach. The expanded role comes as the team “hopes” Flores is able to land another HC opportunity down the road.
  • As for the QB position, a deal could be coming soon. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic points out that, with Pickett having assumed No. 1 duties, it would make sense for Pittsburgh to move on from one of Trubisky or Mason Rudolph at the upcoming trade deadline (subscription required). The latter is a pending free agent and was the subject of trade talks this offseason, though the Steelers held on to him. Trubisky, meanwhile, is under contract for 2023 with a cap hit of $10.625MM.
  • The Browns have the league’s top rushing attack, something owing in no small part to the play of their offensive line. That includes center Ethan Pocic, who signed in Cleveland this offseason after five years in Seattle. When weighing the options presented by a modest free agent market, the 27-year-old chose to work with Browns o-line coach Bill Callahan. “As soon as I wasn’t going to get a big contract, a long-term contract, everything was pretty low, league minimum for the most part, I just went to the team with the best coaches and the best players,” he said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. After the season-ending injury suffered by Nick Harris, Pocic assumed a starter’s role and currently ranks as PFF’s fourth-highest rated center.
  • The first few weeks of the season have offered a glimpse into a new element in the Ravens’ offense. The team has implemented more looks from under center for QB Lamar Jackson, as detailed by the Washington Posts’ Jason La Canfora. Jackson operated almost exclusively from the shotgun prior to entering the NFL; Baltimore deployed plenty of pistol formations during the first four years of his career. 2022, however, has seen a dramatic uptick in his under-center looks, especially in the passing game – part of OC Greg Roman‘s attempts to diversify the team’s run-heavy offense. Overall, that has so far translated to just 213 passing yards per contest (23rd in the league), so the degree to which the team remains committed to this new element will be interesting to monitor as the season progresses.

Steelers Sticking With Mitch Trubisky As Starting QB

Ben Roethlisberger began his starter run in Week 3 of the 2004 season. A Tommy Maddox injury led to that seminal switch. Eighteen years later, the Steelers’ new first-round quarterback prospect looks like he will need to wait longer.

Although some pro-Kenny Pickett chants broke out at Sunday’s Patriots-Steelers game, the No. 20 overall pick will not replace Mitch Trubisky. While acknowledging Trubisky can be more aggressive with downfield throws, Tomlin said he is exercising patience with his quarterback (Twitter link via’s Brooke Pryor) and offensive coordinator.

I’m not happy with much of anything when we just lost a game, but I’m also experienced enough to see the big picture, that we are still very much in development,” Tomlin said, via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly, when asked about OC Matt Canada‘s play-calling. “I’m going to exercise appropriate patience and continue to teach and ask the guys to continue to learn in an effort to continue to push this train down the track and get better.”

This does not represent a logical week to make a switch. Following Thursday’s Browns matchup, however, a transition window opens. Trubisky’s play will dictate how much longer he has as Pittsburgh’s starter, though Pickett’s development may be a bigger factor at this point.

Pittsburgh’s offense struggled during Roethlisberger’s final season, ranking 25th in DVOA. It has offered two low-wattage performances this year. Trubisky, who has attempted 15 throws at or behind the line of scrimmage this season, enters Week 3 averaging 5.1 yards per attempt. Excluding Dak Prescott‘s one-game sample, that mark ranks as the league’s worst. Neither Chase Claypool nor second-round pick George Pickens have surpassed 30 receiving yards in a game this season.

Trubisky is not expected to keep his job throughout this season, but his two sub-200-yard performances magnify Pickett’s development. The Steelers have a Week 9 bye. Although Trey Lance, Jordan Love and Patrick Mahomes are exceptions, with their teams planning longer NFL onramps, every first-round quarterback chosen from 2017-21 had been elevated into the starting lineup by Week 10. (That list expands to 2012 if Paxton Lynch and Johnny Manziel are excluded.) With it being more norm than exception for QBs to begin their starter runs by October of their rookie year — Trubisky took over in Chicago in October 2017 — how long Pickett waits looks like it will be rather important to the Steelers’ contention prospects.

The Steelers promoted Canada from quarterbacks coach to OC last year. He replaced Randy Fichtner. Pittsburgh ranks 30th in total offense, and Najee Harris is averaging 2.9 yards per carry. Even Trubisky called on Canada to be more aggressive, though the second-year OC has not yet worked with an above-average quarterback or much offensive line talent. The offense’s performance Thursday in Cleveland certainly will be a hot-button topic.

Call concepts to get receivers there,” Trubisky said, via Pryor, on the subject of downfield passing. “When the coverage dictates that, get them the ball within that. … We like our outside matchups. We’ve got really good receivers. We’ve got really good talent across the board. We’d like to attack all areas of the field and get the ball to our playmakers. So, we could do a little bit better at everything, for sure.”

Latest On Steelers’ QB Competition

As Pittsburgh rolls into the post-Roethlisberger era, they are in the less than common situation of having four drafted quarterbacks on the roster. Mind you, the Steelers did not originally draft Mitchell Trubisky, but the point is that while most teams’ third- and/or fourth-string quarterbacks tend to be undrafted long-shots, every quarterback on Pittsburgh’s roster had draft capital invested in them. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic gave a breakdown this weekend of where each of these quarterbacks has slotted through spring practices. 

Pittsburgh acquired Trubisky in free agency this offseason after also considering then-free agents Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston. Despite the hole left behind center, the Steelers never seemed to consider trade options such as Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo and made it known early that they were not going to acquire Deshaun Watson. Trubisky signed a reasonable two-year deal to compete for the starting job in Pittsburgh after spending last season as Josh Allen‘s backup in Buffalo.

Trubisky saw all of his work this spring come with the first-team offense, throwing almost solely to Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth. Not only did he only work with the first-team, he was the only quarterback to work with the first-team receivers and offensive line combination. Trubisky appears to be a good fit with offensive coordinator Matt Canada‘s motion-heavy offense. Regardless of whether or not this is a clear indication of who will start Week 1, Trubisky is in the mindset that he will win the job saying, “I’m preparing to be a starter. I feel like, no matter what position you’re in, that’s the way you should prepare.”

The quarterback taking snaps with the second-team is not who most would assume. Third-year Steeler Mason Rudolph is currently the second-string quarterback. The former third-round draft pick has started 10 games over his career (eight in his rookie season) with limited success. Despite the potential for him to settle in as someone who had their chance and watched it pass by, Rudolph reportedly “looked the best of the four quarterbacks” this spring. Rudolph is a meticulous worker and preparer and threw the most consistent ball with the biggest body in the group. While many considered him to be nothing more than a camp body, Rudolph put himself in the quarterback conversation, even if it will require some failures from Trubisky and Pickett to get him to the top of the depth chart. “This is the best opportunity I’ve had in four years,” Rudolph told Kaboly. “I am excited, and I look forward to competing.”

Working as the third-string quarterback this spring has been rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett. Head coach Mike Tomlin and Canada both offered that their current snap distribution is based solely on seniority, with Pickett falling behind Trubisky and Rudolph despite the possibility that he may be the most talented of the bunch. The idea is for Pickett to take the time this spring “to learn how to be a pro,” getting comfortable with the scheme and playbook now so that he can focus on competing for his depth chart spot in the summer. Luckily for Pickett, he has a bit of a leg up in terms of the language of the playbook with some familiarity from the time Canada recruited Pickett to Pitt. Pickett didn’t have too many snaps fewer than Trubisky or Rudolph, but his third-string status had him throwing to a very different receiver group. Pickett said he was “trying to be the best pro (he) can be,” calling this spring “100 percent successful.”

Lastly on the roster is rookie seventh-round draft pick Chris Oladokun. Oladokun transferred from South Florida to Samford to South Dakota State throughout his college career, spending that whole time outside of consistent Power 5 football. According to Kaboly, it showed, as Oladokun “looked like a guy who didn’t get many reps and came from a small college.” Oladokun is a project and his dearth of playing time reflected that, with Oladokun pointing out the importance of staying “locked in” mentally. The benefit of Oladokun’s lowly roster status is that he gets plenty of exclusive time working with David Corley, the assistant to quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan. Whether or not Oladokun ever competes for starting snaps in Pittsburgh, his dedicated time with Corley will foster benefits throughout the future of his career.

For now, the spring depth chart reflects the level of experience, just as Tomlin and Canada have intended. Based on the amount of time Trubisky has had with the first-team, it’s hard to imagine anyone else starting behind center in Week 1 at Cincinnati. Though, with Rudolph coming into his own and the talented rookie, Pickett, hot on their heels, it’s anyone’s guess who the Bengals will face in their season opener.