Steelers’ decisions about their OC leave many questions

At his recent press conference for the 2020 NFL season, Steelers Technical Director Mike Tomlin stated that there will be changes within the organization. Using a form of quote “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”, it looks like the Steelers will be making some tough decisions in the coming weeks. Surprisingly, the next day alone, the contracts of three coaches for the 2021 season were not renewed with one coach retired. Most notable was the Steelers’ parting with attacking coordinator Randy Fichtner after only three seasons in that particular role.

One thing we have to remember is that although we can look at how things look based on people’s words and body language, there are often a lot of horrific things that happen behind the scenes that Steelers fans cannot judge. Sometimes it is after the fact that we discover that the best player on the team is an absolute nightmare to deal with on a daily basis. Other times, the problem may not be caused by a single cause that appears to be the problem.

One of the assumptions that Steelers fans have worked with for the past three seasons has been the manual selection of Randy Fichtner as the Steelers’ attack coordinator by center-back Ben Rothlesberger. His middle coach since 2010, when the Steelers switched from Todd Haley as co-ordinator, it didn’t take time for Fichtner to get promoted to the job.

Ben Rothlesberger apparently had the one he wanted to work with to lead the Steelers’ attack to greatness. Unfortunately, the 2019 season was ruled out after Rothlesberger suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2. But in three seasons, the Steelers sometimes struggled, even during their 11-game winning streak to start the 2020 season. Once certain things were discovered through the defenses Contradicting, it seemed that the Steelers didn’t have much to offer in the form of mods other than just “Let Ben Be Ben”.

Fichtner’s transition Steelers posed several questions when it came to the future of the organization. This is just a sample:

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Is the relationship between Fichtner and Roethlisberger strained?

It was during the 2019 season that comments by Fichtner and midfielder Mason Rudolph began to put a red flag among some. It often seems when the Steelers’ foul was fading, which was so often in 2019, coach Fichtner did not hesitate to throw the young midfielder under the bus. On the flip side, some of the comments Rudolph made about things that Coach Fichtner was hitting his brain could give some pause in thinking that Rudolph was suffering from “paralysis by analysis”.

If you’ve been listening to Fichtner’s comments and press conferences in 2020, it seemed like there were times when the Steelers’ crime had succeeded, and Ben Roethlisberger’s drawing wasn’t playing in the dirt according to Fichtner. But when there was a problem with the Steelers’ crime, it seemed as if Fichtner was going out of his way to indicate that Rothlisberger was launching the plays. Steelers’ co-ordinator may have taken the credit when there was the credit to be given but blaming when the time of responsibility did not do well with the future Hall of Fame Stiliers player.

Does moving from Fichtner show that the Steelers are ready to move from Roethlisberger?

Another question is whether the Steelers are willing to make sweeping changes to crime, especially when it comes to philosophy and plot, so is that something Ben Rothlesberger is interested in doing late in his career? If Roethlisberger really intends to play one or more extra seasons with the Steelers, is a change in attacking system something he wants to do at this point in his career?

Maybe that’s something the Steelers discussed with Roethlisberger before making the decision. Maybe not. If the Steelers were willing to make that change regardless of Roethlisberger’s opinion, knowing that he could choose to hang him must be something they were willing to live with.

Was Randy Fichtner’s situation more than meets the eye?

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As stated in the first question from this section, Randy Fichtner often seemed to want to say the face when it came to the success and failures of the Steelers’ crime. The fact that the Steelers brought in a quarterback coach for the 2020 season, a position that Fichtner held for 10 years even when he was the offensive coordinator, is the writing on the wall that the Steelers were going to change the coordinator. Really brought out last season? Was the Steelers just waiting until the expiration of Fichtner’s contract to move forward? Was coach Fichtner really responsible for the foul this season, or have his responsibilities been gradually removed? Was there a turning point in the season as the Steelers learned that Fichteneire was unable to take responsibility?

Knowing how the Pittsburgh Steelers works, unless Randy Fichtner goes out of his way to announce his side of the case, don’t look for the Steelers to throw him under the bus and expose his flaws (like he’d love to do). This is not the way they do business.


Just 48 hours later, reports surfaced that the Steelers were planning to promote quarterback coach Matt Canada to the role of offensive coordinator. Nothing has been officially submitted, and no interviews that the Steelers may have given have been reported yet. The Steelers cannot promote Canada simply without interviewing as coordinator jobs now also fall under the Rooney Rule. But with Coach Canada being interviewed for the coordinators ‘job in Miami, the Steelers’ intent report appears to be a deliberate move so as not to lose the first candidate.

Canada employment raises additional questions as well. Again, this is just a sample:


How Can Canada Impact the 2020 Steelers Attack?

Some don’t like internal hiring for a Steelers Coordinator position. But how many insiders will be in Canada in 2020? Did he have a big say in the Steelers’ crime, or was he just there to brainstorm and help develop Mason Rudolph? Although these are interesting questions, there is an opportunity to answer some of them ahead of the 2021 season.

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Was 2020 just the Steelers getting to know Canada better for a position they knew they wanted to offer?

On his arrival, much of Steelers ‘Nation was saying Canada was now coming to be in line for the Steelers’ Attack Coordinator position as soon as the same opportunity arose. Did the Steelers know they’d be moving from Fichtner after 2020 except for a big change? Was Canada there to “kindle the fire” or to Fichtner after notice? Did the Steelers bring Canada just to audition and show what he could do at the NFL level before actually taking over?

Is Ben Rothlesberger ready to overcome the crime of Matt Canada, or will Canada have to adapt to Rothlisberger if he remains?

As shown here at BTSC on several occasions, there was often a disconnect between some of the philosophies the Steelers had been implementing from Matt Canada’s system and Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to operate these concepts. A good blueprint for the situation can be seen here thanks to Geoffrey Benedict:

If Canada is the Steelers’ attack co-ordinator next season as has been reported, does that mean the Steelers move from Ben Rothlesberger? If Roethlisberger came back as reported, would Roethlisberger adapt to Canada’s system, or would it be the other way around? Will Canada be tied for what he really wants to do based on the aging Steelers?


It’s hard to say if and when these questions will get definitive answers, but during this holiday season these are the things that Steelers fans discuss a lot. It is difficult to say how long it will take until there is an official announcement regarding Ben Rothlesberger for the 2021 season, but reports indicate that the Steelers want to move to next season with Energy– Quarterback won.

So, what are your thoughts on the Fichtner-Roethlisberger-Canada triangle? Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Amber Cross

"Music buff. Unapologetic problem solver. Organizer. Social media maven. Web nerd. Incurable reader."

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