Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: S Minkah Fitzpatrick
Stock Value: Up
Does it really mean much, or anything, that Pete Prisco not only chose to exclude Minkah Fitzpatrick from his top 100 players list, but also doubled down on it? No. Does it matter that Fitzpatrick just so happened to catch his video explanation for why he wasn’t on the list, and that claims to be fueled by it? Probably not, at least not a lot.
But it doesn’t hurt, either. As Cameron Heyward pointed out, Michael Jordan is famous for using any denigration, actual or perceived, to drive himself, to push himself harder, even if it’s not necessarily to prove the doubters wrong—though often enough, that’s a factor—but just for motivation.
That’s what Fitzpatrick said about Prisco’s video. He said that he caught it just before working out, and that it energized him. He even suggested that he might take up the recommendation that he put Prisco’s face up in his locker for that extra oomph of motivation before practice.
After all, didn’t Antonio Brown have a negative scouting report taped to his locker? That seemed to work out pretty well for him, at least on the field, although, of course, he proved to be mentally unstable, presumably for reasons that went undetected on said scouting report.
Now, Fitzpatrick’s stock isn’t up just because of some drop of motivational media skepticism about just how good he is—even if he was listed in the ‘just missed the cut’ portion of the list. His stock is up for numerous reasons.
He talked about not just the slight, but also about what he expects of himself in his second season with the Steelers, and his first full season. He believes that he will be able to play much faster this year—not that that shouldn’t be expected.
Even with that said, it won’t be all that easy for him to replicate the statistical success that he had last year. Since 2000, there have been only eight five-interception seasons for any Steeler, and though two occurred just last year, prior to that, the last one was in 2010. Troy Polamalu, a Hall of Famer, only had three such seasons. Even Mel Blount had four. Rod Woodson did it six times, though only three times in his 10-year Steelers career.