PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers have put their faith in quarterbacks coach Matt Canada to lead this offense moving forward.
If we're honest, it was easy to see Canada taking over for Randy Fichtner, but when it happened leaves a question mark.
Fichtner's gone. The Steelers decided not to renew his contract following the 2020 season, a year in which Pittsburgh finished last in the league in rushing and scored fewer than 20 points in four of their final six games. A span they went 1-5 in.
Moving on was the only option. The Steelers were losing momentum, getting predictable and reverting back to the short throws, can't build a drive, Steelers offense. And unlike 2019, the 2020 team had the talent to win. They showed it during the first 11 weeks.
So, now they're here. It's Canada's offense, Ben Roethlisberger has a year left on his contract, and if they can swerve through a salary cap nightmare this offseason, they should have a large chunk of this unit put together for next year.
But what's the game plan?
Fichtner's biggest flaw was his refusal to open up the offense. A group of wide receivers that featured JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and James Washington looked scared to throw deep. This allowed teams to lock in over the middle and essentially cost them any efforts left with the run game.
Overall, it was a disaster. Everyone knows that.
Roethlisberger's return should leave concern nothing will change, though. If the 38-year-old quarterback is headed back for another season, he'll have the largest input in the offense's plan of attack - which might mean not much changes.
Canada's offense can go one of two ways. Either this is a revamped attack, mixed with sprinkles of his college days. Really, the reason he made it to the NFL and earned himself an interview with the Miami Dolphins for their OC position.
Or, it's Fichtner 2.0, a mix of old and new, that essentially doesn't change much from what this team has seen.
Much of the decision comes down to Roethlisberger. No one wants to learn a new system with a year left in the NFL. So, maybe he's accepting of change, but how much are you going to adjust when you're trying to utilize your Hall of Famer's final run?
Holding back from adjusting to Canada's true gameplan will cost this team moving forward. It removes players like Johnson and Claypool from gaining that extra year of knowledge under their new play-caller. It also forces any rookies to learn an offense for one season, only to have that altered the year after.
At the same time, if this offense looked like it did during the second half of their playoff loss, they have a legitimate chance of beating anyone. And chances are, it wasn't Fichtner calling much of the plays during their attempted comeback.
So, there's hope. Don't look at Canada as the next crossing routes and screen passes coach, but look at him as the opportunity to let Roethlisberger be the guide.
When Big Ben was drawing plays in the dirt during the 2020 season, the team was winning. When he wasn't, they were losing four of their final five regular season games.
Add a dash of a new offensive coordinator and the extra boost, knowing it could be a quarterbacks' final year, and this offense could be drastically better.
It's just a matter of accepting that the past didn't work.