The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks a slight improvement from the past two seasons, during which they did not even qualify for the playoffs altogether. They have now done four seasons without securing a victory beyond regular season play.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
They did manage to go 12-4 during the regular season, and secured their first AFC North title since 2017, posting a new franchise record by opening the season with 11 consecutive wins, but of course it all fell apart after that. Their only victory after that required a 17-point comeback.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2020 season.
Player: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Experience: 3 Years
What better way of following up your first Pro Bowl and All-Pro nomination than by doing it again? Of course, you could win the Defensive Player of the Year Award, but short of that, there isn’t much more than could have been asked of Minkah Fitzpatrick for an encore performance from his first season in Pittsburgh in 2019.
Acquired via trade in September of that year in exchange for a first-round pick, Fitzpatrick, who was taken 11th overall in 2018 by the Miami Dolphins, stepped in and immediately provided both an upgrade and a spark, picking off five passes and recovering two fumbles, recording two defensive touchdowns in the process. He was named a first-team All-Pro.
This past season wasn’t quite as splashy for Fitzpatrick, but he still managed four interception. He also forced a fumble and recovered another for five total takeaways, and for the third year in a row, recorded a pick six, now with four total defensive touchdowns in three seasons.
There were some issues in terms of tackling this year, particularly a failure to wrap up, and things of that nature, that contributed to some big plays, but you’re not going to find a perfect player in the league, and Fitzpatrick can’t be held to perfect standards, either.
The Alabama product has raised the level of performance and expectation for not just the secondary but the entire defense from the moment that he arrived, gradually also becoming a leader by example, with his work ethic being obvious to those around him, his note-taking, for example, already having become somewhat legendary.
Entering his fourth season, the Steelers are due to pick up his fifth-year option, and next year they’re be faced with how to keep him around for the long term. There is no doubt that that is what they plan to do, but there’s still the matter of actually getting it done.