Sometimes it really feels as though Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is respected and admired everywhere but in Pittsburgh. Of active head coaches heading into the 2018 season, only Bill Belichick boasted a higher winning percentage. The Steelers are one of four teams who have been to the playoffs in at least four of the past five years. I could go on, but everyone already has their minds made up.
Including new Steelers defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who sat down with Missi Matthews for an interview early today on the team’s website. She told Matthews that he really liked Tomlin after meeting him multiple times during the pre-draft process.
“Coach Tomlin is a great coach. I spoke to him a couple times before the draft last year, just had a real good feeling about him, just as a coach and as a man”, Fitzpatrick said. “I told my mom, ‘he’s definitely a coach I’d like to play for one day’, and I’m excited about it”.
If you follow the Steelers Depot Twitter feed, you probably saw us dig up some evidence from the pre-draft process a year ago. The Steelers sent the house to Alabama’s Pro Days and Tomlin was seen engaging him in conversation multiple times. Matthews asked him what he made of those interactions.
“It was the way he carried himself. Obviously I’ve seen him coach before on the field, and then I got to meet him in person as a man, and it just affirmed everything that I said about him”, the second-year player said. “He’s a player’s coach, he’s easy to talk to. He wasn’t trying to be too cool or too mean or anything like that, he was just being himself, and he’s definitely someone that, like I said, I’d like to play for one day”.
Earlier today, Tomlin said that they had extensively done their “due diligence” on Fitzpatrick during the pre-draft process in 2018 when they were in the market for “a high-end safety”, but called it a “pipe dream” that they would be able to draft him.
He ended upgoing 11th overall to the Miami Dolphins, substantially higher than where the Steelers picks, but now they will get him for roughly the cost of wherever their 2020 first-round pick ends up, pairing him with the safety they did draft, Terrell Edmunds.
This was no question a long-term view. He’s going to be a plug-and-play starter at free safety, perhaps where he will remain for the next decade if everything works out the way that they envision. Sean Davis’ time in Pittsburgh has been signaled as coming to an end.
Fitzpatrick reportedly wanted out of Miami because he didn’t like the way the Dolphins were using him. Now he’ll be working for a coach he’s already wanted to play for. That sounds like a good recipe to me.