Pittsburgh Steelers fans were calling for Matt Canada’s firing for quite some time, but his players were surprised when the move was made on Tuesday by the organization.
In fact, quarterback Kenny Pickett is taking the decision personal.
“It’s a challenge to everybody,” Pickett said, per ESPN. “I feel like you have to take it personal. It’s a guy you’ve worked with since I got drafted here, you want to play great, you don’t want to see anyone get let go like that. So absolutely we have to answer the bell, find out what we need to do to play better and then just go take care of business.”
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Pickett was drafted out of Pitt last year in the first round, when he had pedestrian numbers in his rookie season. He threw for 2,404 yards with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions over 13 games (12 starts).
This year, the Steelers are in the playoff hunt at 6-4. However, the offense has been brutal as it sits 28th in total yards per game (280.1) and 31st in passing yards per game (170.0). In turn, the Steelers are only averaging 16.6 points per game.
FROM OUTKICK: STEELERS FANS CELEBRATE FIRING OF OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT CANADA
So, head coach Mike Tomlin made the call to move on from Canada.
“You hate to see it,” Pickett said of the firing, adding he had no idea it was coming. “You don’t want to see one of your coaches lose their job. We all got to be better. Called coach, wished him well. We had a great conversation, but you got to bounce back quick and get ready to go.”
The Steelers are winners in four of their past six games and are set to face their AFC North foe Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. It is the Bengals’ first game without Joe Burrow under center, as rookie Jake Browning will take over after he tore a ligament in his wrist.
How Pickett and the offense perform post-Canada will be the main focus for everyone involved, in and outside the Steelers’ building.
However, Pickett pointed out that the same system the Steelers have been running will be used, though quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan and running backs coach Eddie Faulkner will “put their wrinkle in on it” in shared duties running the offense.
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“You can’t have wholesale changes at this point in the season,” Pickett said.