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A Letter From the Editor: What if Matt Canada isn’t the man to blame?

What if our angst has been misdirected this entire time?

Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The other day I was looking through my Twitter feed and quickly noticed Matt Canada had spoken to the media during the Pittsburgh Steelers mandatory minicamp. As usual, the media and fans were going over Canada’s comments with a fine-toothed comb.

This is typical whenever Canada speaks, but this media session felt differently. The fans and media were focusing on one specific quote about the team’s identity.

Here is what Canada said when asked about the offense’s identity.

“I think we’ve got a, you know, there’s an identity that’s coming from an organizational plan, right? It’s not like I’m coming in here saying what it is.”

Immediately fans and media started to rip the offensive coordinator for not having his own identity to the offense he orchestrates. But something felt off. I felt there was more to this than what was being put on Twitter, so I went and watched the press conference for myself.

Here is the full quote:

“I think we’ve got a, you know, there’s an identity that’s coming from an organizational plan, right? It’s not like I’m coming in here saying what it is.” Canada continued. “There’s a plan for Mr. Rooney to Coach Tomlin. And so, obviously when I say we’re going to run the ball doesn’t mean we’re going to run it every play and our quarterback, you win, quarterback has to make plays. You’re exactly right in this league, the quarterbacks make the plays to win the game at those key moments.

“We have great faith in Kenny, Mitch [Trubisky], and Mason [Rudolph] to do that, but the prior question as I answered it was just saying, we do have an identity, we’re going to be a physical team and if you stop the run, then we obviously have to take advantage of that with play action passes, misdirection passes, passes down the field, and that’s when Kenny’s got to make those throws at those times when it’s called upon.”

This was obviously some nit-picking by the media when it came to the quote, but it also got me thinking...

What if Canada was just following orders? What if he truly didn’t have the freedom to call a game the way he genuinely wants/wanted to?

Some might scoff and this and see it as an excuse from the lowly coordinator trying to displace some of the blame for his failures as a play caller. While that may be true, I’m not buying it. While I know Canada isn’t a perfect coach by any stretch of the imagination, there is a strong chance he was told by the power that be, in this case Tomlin and Rooney, how they want the offense run.

In this regard, it’s a “follow orders or lose your job” situation. I don’t blame Canada for falling in line.

Steelers fans love to bash Canada and his jet sweeps and failed red-zone trips. But what if some of those misfortunes are at the hands of someone else? It may seem crazy, and many won’t buy it, but it is a possibility.

On my Friday “Let’s Ride” podcast I dove into this topic more, and the more I dug, the more I found blame to be dispersed to not just Canada but to those above him on the organizational hierarchy.

Does this absolve Canada of any of the offense’s failures? Absolutely not, but it does certainly shine a light on what might be happening behind closed doors no one knows, or talks, about.

(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)

You can hear the aforementioned “Let’s Ride” podcast by clicking play in the player below: