Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: S Minkah Fitzpatrick
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: Through three games, Minkah Fitzpatrick has not registered any sorts of statistics so far this season other than tackle, including tackles for loss, and the pass defense has not been as tight as it was last season.
It would perhaps be going too far to say that Minkah Fitzpatrick’s stock is down. Not having any splash plays through three games isn’t necessarily his fault entirely, and it’s too much to expect one player to be responsible for keeping the coverage tight.
But the reality is that Fitzpatrick was acquired to be an impact player, and right now, he isn’t really being one. In fact, he hasn’t recorded a takeaway in something like 10 games if you go back to last season. Yes, teams continue to target away from him, but that doesn’t mean he has been unable to make any impact of any kind.
Fitzpatrick does rank fifth on the team with 13 tackles, 11 of them solo, none for a loss, although he has also already missed three tackles on the season. In coverage, he is credited with surrendering seven completions on 10 targets for 96 yards. He has not yet been asked to blitz this year (and he only did it seven times last year).
More concerning than the splash plays is the fact that the defense has been less than remarkable. One of their greatest strengths in 2019 was in preventing the big play, but they have been giving up quite a few this year and are well on pace to surpass the number they gave up last year. And those big plays have been getting in the end zone, as well.
But the bottom line is the Steelers are winning games. That is the first and foremost responsibility, and Fitzpatrick has been a positive contributor in that area. He just hasn’t necessarily been one of the principle players in defining the course of games. The pass rush has been the nucleus of the defense so far this year. But a lot of things have been odd about 2020. His time will come.