Are you tired of talking about Minkah Fitzpatrick yet? Probably not. About the only thing Pittsburgh Steelers fans love more than a great safety is a great outside linebacker or a big running back who can occasionally get five yards on a carry. And we’re only 14 games into Fitzpatrick’s tenure on the team, so you better not be tired of hearing about or from him yet.
Especially considering that he is promising even better from himself in the future after he recorded five interceptions with two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble, not to mention two defensive touchdowns, during his 14 games played with the Steelers a year ago.
While addressing reporters before practice yesterday, he was repeatedly pressed after responding to a question about his potentially moving around this season by saying that he doesn’t expect his role to change significantly from last season. As that wore down, he was asked how he can still make the same impact on plays while not moving around.
Part of being a successful safety, I had mentioned Ed Reed earlier, is just being in the right position. If you watch a lot of Ed Reed’s tape, a lot of his tape is just him being in the right position and balls being tipped to him. You know, forcing fumbles, taking the right angles. Because a lot of guys, if you’re lazy back there, you don’t pay attention to a lot of the details of the game, but one little step off and Ed Reed is going to make that play. One little step against the Rams last year and I’m two inches off from catching the ball and closing the game.
So, it’s a game of details back there. Because like there’s times where there’s just drops, or you don’t make a lot of plays, but you still have to be in the right position. Because we make plays, as safeties, just by being in the right position. The ball, we might not get the pick, we might not get the pass breakup, but simply by being in the right position and making a quarterback not throw to a certain area, by taking away receiver out the game, we make a lot of plays.
Everybody loves the big splash plays and interceptions and the forced fumbles and stuff like that, but as an elite safety or great safety, you do a lot of unknown things and one of them is being in the right position. So as long as I’m keeping in the right position and practicing the right way, then I’m going to keep making plays.
A lot of his game did pertain to being in the right place at the right time. Two of his interceptions came off of deflections by Joe Haden. I believe Haden had an interception off of a deflection from Fitzpatrick, as did Kameron Kelly. He was there to scoop and run with the ball after forced fumbles by Devin Bush and Javon Hargrave, the latter of which he returned for a touchdown.
Reed always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Those who didn’t know better likely just assumed that he was very lucky. Little did they know how much work it takes for a player to consistently put himself in the right place to be where the play is going, or could go, whether it means getting the ball in his hands or simply forcing the throw in another, safer direction.