Listen to anyone talk about Minkah Fitzpatrick and the message is central. He’s a special playmaker. No denying that either – what he’s done in his brief Steelers’ career has been nothing short of remarkable. Lost in the interceptions, forced fumbles, big-play impact he brings are all the routine, overlooked things he does.
Fitzpatrick is a remarkably sound tackler. The numbers tell that story.
According to our Josh Carney’s Missed Tackles Report, Fitzpatrick missed just six tackles in 2019. That puts him at a 10.3% miss rate, one of the better numbers on a team who tackled well across the board. It also serves as a big contrast of safety play from past years.
Compare him to the man he replaced. Sean Davis. Here are his missed tackle rates over the last three seasons.
2018 – 20%
2017 – 20%
2016 – 21.3%
Remarkably consistent. Consistently underwhelming.
Terrell Edmunds’ numbers have been better, sitting around 12% the last two seasons, but still don’t touch what Fitzpatrick has done. No, Fitz isn’t a physically imposing missile like Ryan Clark and Troy but he has excellent technique and posture, knowing how and when to break down, with good grip strength and ability to finish with physicality. A desire to play in more space is what got him sent out of Miami, and FS is the best fit for him, but he can handle any role you throw at him.
In April, I tweeted a cut-up (and could’ve added several more plays) highlighting that open field tackling ability.
Minkah Fitzpatrick created a ton of takeaways for Pittsburgh but his steady tackling was just as important. Very low missed tackle rate. Trust him to make the splash plays AND the routine ones in open grass. Prevents good plays from being great ones. Complete FS. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/Suv48ffmGS
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) April 8, 2020
Being a great safety isn’t about feast/famine, all-or-nothing. Even great playmakers are tough to trust if they aren’t reliable, sound tacklers making as many bad plays as good. At such an important position to play, last line of defense, the man who decides whether that 20 yard completion turns into a 65 yard touchdown, you have to tackle well.
The Steelers have that with Fitzpatrick. Add in his playmaking ability and you have a special player.