Nov 13, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) throws a pass near head coach Mike Tomlin before playing the New Orleans Saints at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin never wanted to fire Matt Canada, certainly not in midseason. It’s poor form for any organization, and it’s especially frowned upon for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are synonymous with stability. Wayward franchises do that, not the six-time Super Bowl champions. They haven’t made a move like this since 1941. But an untenable situation forced Tomlin to make an uncharacteristic move.

Steelers fans got their wish. The league’s most unpopular offensive coordinator is gone. Canada has been replaced by two men: running backs coach Eddie Faulkner is the interim OC, but quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan will call the plays. If this unusual arrangement works, Tomlin will be praised. If it fails, Tomlin will absorb more blame.

Canada was an easy target. The Steelers never reached 400 yards of offense in his 45-game stint. They have the fifth-worst scoring offense in the league (16.6 points per game) this season. But it seems too simplistic to think that ousting Canada will solve all of Pittsburgh’s problems. Tomlin and general manager Omar Khan must take a hard look at the entire offense.

The focus will be on the lack of improvement by Kenny Pickett. By any statistic you want to use, Pickett has been lousy. Entering this week, he has fewer touchdown passes (6) this season than Jimmy Garoppolo (7), who hasn’t played since last month. He has a worse passer rating (79.2) than Desmond Ridder (84.1). His completion percentage (60.5) is lower than Tyson Bagent (65.7).

Pickett hit rock bottom last weekend when he passed for fewer yards (106) than Cleveland Browns’ rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson (165). Yes, the Browns have an elite defense. Still, the footage from that game is cringe-worthy.

In 23 games, Pickett has 13 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. Everyone was quick to blame Canada, but it’s fair to wonder if Pickett might be the issue. He was the lone quarterback taken in the first round in the 2022 draft. The only quarterback who has looked like a star has been Mr. Irrelevant. Brock Purdy might win the MVP this season. Steelers fans are simply hoping for signs of progress.

Purdy has support from terrific skill players: Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. Where are Pickett’s playmakers? The Steelers have been historically great at developing wide receivers. Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Emmanuel Sanders, and Mike Wallace were not first-round picks. George Pickens, a second-round selection in 2022, might be the next one. However, he has seven career touchdowns. Is this because of Canada or Pickett? We’ll soon find out. The other wide receivers, Diontae Johnson and Allen Robinson II, have had little impact.

Pittsburgh’s limitations through the air wouldn’t be striking if it had a reliable ground game. But even that has been a mixed bag.

Najee Harris was expected to be the centerpiece of the Steelers’ running game. Like Pickett, this former first-round selection has also underwhelmed. The Alabama alum was taken No. 24 overall in 2021. After a somewhat promising rookie season, the narrative was ‘wait until he gets a better offensive line.’ Harris is in his third year now, and this is the best run-blocking unit he has had. And yet, he’s on pace to average under four yards per carry for the third straight season.

There is hope. Jaylen Warren, an undrafted second-year player, has added some badly needed juice. He has rushed for over 100 yards in consecutive games and is averaging 6.2 yards per rush. In limited action, he has shown more explosiveness than Harris has in his entire career. Warren must have a bigger role.

Tomlin doesn’t have a lot of options, and Faulkner and Sullivan might not provide many solutions. The Steelers haven’t averaged over 20 points in a season since 2020. All he can do is continue to lean on his defense and hope Pickett can do just enough.

If not, Pittsburgh will miss the playoffs again.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.