We’ve covered much of Minkah Fitzpatrick’s NFL Game Pass session, breaking down X’s and O’s and doing a tremendous job of offering insight into his mind and how the Steelers’ defense works. There was one last interesting bit worth sharing with you guys.
Fitzpatrick explained that often times when the Steelers’ safeties decide to disguise their coverages, it’s not a direct coaching point but communication and a decision made between Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick. He went on to say it can happen prior to a drive or even before a particular play.
“Sometimes me and Terrell will talk a lot,” Fitzpatrick said. And we’ll say, we’ll show what we’re playing and the next play, if we’re playing single high, we’ll show two high and on the snap rotate down.”
Here’s an example of it late last year against the Cleveland Browns. Involving Cam Sutton too, the Steelers show a two high look pre-snap before both safeties roll down with Sutton becoming the deep middle defender. It goes from a Cover 2/quarters look to Cover 3.
Fitzpatrick admitted this trick doesn’t work on smart, veteran QBs who’ve seen it all before.
“Some guys like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, they’ve seen it all. I can line up in single high as much as I want, he knows if we’re going to rotate.”
But even Hall of Famers like Brady can be fooled. A pre-snap disguise led to Joe Haden’s INT against the Pats in 2018, a play we broke down here.
Fitzpatrick also said some QBs surprisingly struggle with rotation. Being able to keep QBs on their toes, force them and the rest of the offense to process post-snap is critical and takes a good defense and makes them great. The fact the Steelers’ secondary will have unusual continuity this year, almost the entire unit returning, including all starters, will let them mix things up immediately. That will begin Week 1 against a young QB in Daniel Jones, who better prepare for the Steelers’ sleight of hand.