There isn’t a lot, individually, that Minkah Fitzpatrick hasn’t already done since arriving with the Pittsburgh Steelers 30 games ago. He’s been named a first-team All-Pro twice since then, and is among the league leaders in interceptions, even if Madden might not rate him that highly.
While he’s no doubt not a fan of his Madden rating, that isn’t what fuels him each and every day he’s on the field to get just that much better, to improve on one little detail or another to help him make a play, he make a more impactful play, that he might not have gotten to otherwise.
Fitzpatrick talked about continual improvement after practice today, no matter where your game is, and highlighted one aspect of his game that he’s working on right now in the hopes of being more impactful this year. “This offseason, and even this camp, definitely just cleaning footwork out of the middle of the field”, he told reporters.
“I play deep safety a lot, and angles are extremely important when you’re coming out of the middle of the field”, he went on. “You can make a lot more plays, and it goes from a tackle to a pick if your feet are good or great, so I’ve definitely been working on that for sure”.
While Fitzpatrick is perhaps the most detail-oriented defender the Steelers have on their roster, there is always room for improvement, and there were even times over the course of the previous season that he has acknowledged he didn’t make the play he should have made. There was a notable deep touchdown he allowed against the Tennessee Titans on a catch and run after taking a poor angle and tackle attempt, for example.
Great players, it seems, are driven by the plays they fail to make much more so than chasing a repeat of the plays they did make. There’s nothing worse than a mistake, and having gotten beaten for it, which pushes you to try to do everything you can to avoid it.
Meanwhile, the Steelers must count themselves fortunate, because Fitzpatrick has not missed a game since they brought him in, even during the regular season finale a year ago. The problem? They don’t really have another free safety, although there are some candidates.
Right now, the leading candidate seems to be rookie seventh-round pick Tre Norwood, who has been able to make some plays so far, not just in training camp, but also going back to OTAs. If not him, it’s not clear who would be suitable for the role.