Despite winning four of five games going into their Week 11 date with the Browns, it was clear all was not well in Pittsburgh. The Steelers had been showing great fourth-quarter resilience to pull off wins in tightly-contested games. However, the offense was shaky at best in most of those outings.
And as expected, when things stopped bouncing their way in the critical moments, Pittsburgh suffered a loss to the Browns and heads rolled. Specifically, offensive coordinator Matt Canada got the ax.
It turns out there was even more unrest in the Steelers locker room after the loss. According to ESPN, wide receiver Diontae Johnson and defensive back Minjah Fitzpatrick "got into a heated argument" that had to be broken up by Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt.
Johnson had been in an "animated" conversation with Mike Tomlin on the sideline before things escalated with Fitzpatrick on the way to the locker room.
Steelers locker room altercation has 2023 season on a knife's edge
ESPN's reporting indicates all parties have put the incident behind them but that'll do little to ease concerns around the Steelers going into their matchup with the Bengals on Sunday.
It's been clear all along that the Pittsburgh defense was doing their job while the offense has left plenty to be desired with Canada calling the plays and Kenny Pickett taking snaps. In all four losses this season, the Steelers scored 10 points or fewer.
The trouble is that firing a coordinator rarely has a truly game-changing positive impact. Canada shouldn't have been retained as the offensive coordinator in the first place and now the Steelers have to live with the remnants of his offense for the rest of the season. Will that change be enough to prevent future flashpoints in Pittsburgh?
Tomlin is still one of the best head coaches in the league. He managed to get a reslient-but-flawed team to 6-4 but keeping them on track is going to be a tough task.