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Kenny Pickett surprised after Steelers fired OC Matt Canada: ‘You have to take it personal’

Kenny Pickett and the Steelers’ offense has been brutal so far this season

Kenny Pickett was just as surprised as everyone else when he learned the Pittsburgh Steelers had fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada on Tuesday.

The coaching change, which came after the Steelers’ 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns last week, was the first in-season coaching change the organization has made since 1941. Pickett said Wednesday ahead of their game this week against the Cincinnati Bengals that he had no idea the change was coming.

“You hate to see it. You don’t want to see one of your coaches lose their job,” he said, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “We all got to be better. Called coach [Canada], wished him well. We had a great conversation, but you got to bounce back quick and get ready to go.”

While the Steelers are 6-4, their offense has been horrific so far this season. They’ve been outgained in all 10 of their games — most recently by 10 yards to the Browns on Sunday in a game they won on a last-second field goal — though they somehow still have a winning record. The Steelers are in the bottom five in the league in total yards per game (280.1) and points per game (16.6), and they’re second-worst in passing yards with 170 per game, which is better than only the New York Giants. That team is on its third-string rookie quarterback.

Pickett has been bad, too. Headed into Sunday’s game against the Bengals, Pickett has thrown for 1,722 yards with only six touchdowns and four interceptions. He threw for 106 yards against the Browns and averaged just 3.8 yards per completion, a season-low. He holds a 35.7 QBR.

As a result, fans zeroed in on Canada as the issue in Pittsburgh — which led to head coach Mike Tomlin firing him.

"It's a challenge to everybody," Pickett said of Canada’s firing. "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."

Despite their issues, the Steelers enter Sunday’s game having won four of their past six games. The Bengals are just 5-5 after dropping their past two games, and they lost quarterback Joe Burrow for the rest of the year.

While Canada is now gone, don’t expect sweeping offensive changes with quarterback coach Mike Sullivan and running backs coach Eddie Faulkner sharing the reins.

"You can't have wholesale changes at this point in the season," Pickett said. "We're going to run the system that we've been using, and Coach Sully, Coach Faulk, they're going to put their wrinkle in on it, on what they want to run and when they want to run it."

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