During the week of practices leading up to this year’s Pro Bowl, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick indicated that he’s open to moving around more in the defense during the 2020 season. Last week ahead of Super Bowl LIV in Miami, FL, Fitzpatrick doubled down on his moving around comments from a few weeks ago.
The 2019 All-Pro Fitzpatrick wants to move around more in 2020 so that opposing quarterbacks won’t be able to avoid throwing his way like they several did during the second half of this past season, his second in the NFL. Opposing quarterbacks learned quickly during the 2019 season to avoid throwing at Fitzpatrick, who mostly played the post safety position after arriving in Pittsburgh from the Miami Dolphins via a Week 3 trade.
“I don’t want to see that drop-off,” Fitzpatrick reportedly said last week of his production, according to Brooke Pryor of espn.com. “You know what I’m saying? I wanted to continue to have that impact on my team and have that impact on games. Because it’s no fun when you’re in a critical moment and you can’t do nothing about it.
“When you move around and you’re a moving piece on the chessboard, it’s hard to defend and you can’t just say, ‘All right, the quarterback is going to look at me and say he’s going to be in this spot every snap,’ like I was last year. It’s going to be harder and it’s going to be more difficult to take me out of the game.”
Fitzpatrick’s recent comments about being open to moving around more in 2020 are quite similar to those he gave on the same topic during the week of practices leading up to this year’s Pro Bowl in Orlando, FL.
“Yeah, we’ll definitely add to the arsenal of what I can do and moving around and stuff,” Fitzpatrick said a little more than two weeks ago. “Because that last half of the season, you know, I didn’t really have too much production. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t doing my job, it was just because quarterbacks were just staying out of the middle of the field, staying away from my half when I was in a half.
“And you just want to be more involved in the game, you know what I’m saying? Sometimes you have to move around to be more involved.”
Fitzpatrick certainly did witness a passing game production drop-off during the second half of the 2019 season. After recording four interceptions in his first six games with the Steelers after being acquired from the Dolphins in a Week 3 trade, Fitzpatrick was targeted just twice over the final eight weeks of the season as opposing offenses simply stopped throwing the ball anywhere near him. That stat came courtesy of our own defensive charting done by Alex Kozora.
With Fitzpatrick now expected to move around more in the defense in 2020, that figures to result in fellow Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds doing the same. Fitzpatrick played just 129 inside box as a member of the Steelers in 2019 while Edmunds played 451 total snaps in the box.
Fitzpatrick’s comments about wanting to move around more in 2020 certainly won’t be music to the ears of fans of the Dolphins because the safety essentially forced a trade shortly after Miami’s Week 1 loss that included him playing multiple positions. At that time Fitzpatrick said he felt like the Dolphins didn’t have a good plan for him to succeed and that he thought he was being used in the box too much.
The Steelers gave the Dolphins their 2020 first-round draft pick as part of the deal to acquire Fitzpatrick and the Alabama product went on to have a great season that culminated with him being voted First-Team All-Pro.