When you’re good—and especially when you’re winning—you tend to have fun. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s a very, very fun time to be playing on defense, even coming off an 8-8 season in which the offense was almost uniformly terrible, failing to score 30 points in a single game even once.
Right now, this defense fields four Pro Bowlers and three first-team All-Pros, and there are several others who have the talent and the potential to rise to a similar level, as soon as the 2020 season. Success tends to breed success as well.
The newest face to the team in the category of All-Pros is Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is going into his third season in the NFL after the Steelers acquired him via trade between the second and third weeks of the 2019 season. He stepped in immediately as a starter and recorded a forced fumble and interception in his first game. Though they lost that one thanks to a late fumble, the Steelers went on a winning streak after that and nearly turned the season around.
The safety recently took part in a Film Session episode for NFL Network, which will also be viewable on GamePass. During his discussion in breaking down the interception that he had against his former team in the deep middle, he came out with this: “it’s so much fun playing with this team. I say that all the time. It’s probably the most fun I had in a real, real long time”.
We’ve been hearing that sort of thing from a lot of players. T.J. Watt. Cameron Heyward. Vince Williams. All of them have talked about how fun it’s been over the past year. Early in the offseason, Watt even said it with a sense of shame simply for the fact that they lost eight games, but he simply couldn’t deny that, as a unit, they were really having a good time out there.
And when you’re having the sort of success that they had, I suppose it’s hard not to enjoy yourself if you truly love the game. They ranked fifth in the league in points per game allowed, first in sacks, first in takeaways, third in passing yards, and third in both yards and points allowed per drive.
For the most part, they are returning the same unit as last year, minus Javon Hargrave and Mark Barron. But they should see noticeable improvement from Devin Bush in his second season, and Fitzpatrick and Steven Nelson should be more comfortable as well. Then you have Stephon Tuitt returning from injury after missing 10-plus games. More fun will be had, of that I’m sure.