The Pittsburgh Steelers are now training camp, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp will look much different from the norm, and a big part of that will be the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. There will be no preseason played in 2020, so the first time the Steelers take the field in 2020 will be for the season opener against the New York Giants.
Before we get there, however, there are a number of issues that are outstanding on this team, and this year’s edition of training camp will not provide the level of thoroughness that teams are normally used to in trying to answer those questions.
Questions like, what is the starting offensive line going to look like? Will it include Zach Banner or Chukwuma Okorafor? Who will be the primary nose tackle? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: What’s the over/under for Minkah Fitzpatrick’s interception total in 2020?
Minkah Fitzpatrick has seven interceptions in his career. He had five in 2019, all with the Steelers over 14 games. In actuality, all five of them came over a seven-week span starting from his first with the team. He failed to record another during the final seven games of the season after that initial flurry.
Earlier this week, he was asked what his goal was for interceptions in 2020. He said that he wanted to beat his interception total from a year ago, so he figured at least six or seven. He (and later Joe Haden) became the first Steelers since 2010 to record more than even three interceptions.
The last player to have at least four interceptions in consecutive seasons was Brent Alexander, who picked off exactly four passes in four straight seasons between 2001 and 2003. Chat Scott had five interceptions in both 2000 and 2001.
The question is, what should the over/under be for Fitzpatrick? It’s harder to predict interception totals for younger players without an extensive resume, but he did have nine interceptions during his three-year college career as well, including six in his sophomore season.
While I know he is probably capable of more, I would probably put the over/under at 4.5. Getting five interceptions in any year is difficult. There are only 16 players throughout Steelers history to have done it more than once. Troy Polamalu, having done it three times, is the most recent.