The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The defense will continue to move Minkah Fitzpatrick around on the field more.
Explanation: After losing two starting cornerbacks from last season, the Steelers seem to be in an exploratory phase in the secondary, throwing just about everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. One package on Sunday included Fitzpatrick rolling down into the box and Tre Norwood dropping to safety.
One of Minkah Fitzpatrick’s most attractive traits coming out of college as his ability to move around throughout the defense. This is how he was used by the Miami Dolphins, and he was fine with it, until Brian Flores started to keep sticking him in the box like a dime linebacker half the game.
Since arriving in Pittsburgh, he has been mostly stationary, but has also gone back and forth on his desire to move around more. He was for it, even advocating for it, at the end of the 2019 season. Just last week, he said that he didn’t expect to move around.
But he did. And perhaps he said that he wouldn’t as part of the subterfuge. It doesn’t matter now that the cat’s out of the bag. But frankly, it’s quite possible that he is their best slot defender. The only problem is that he’s practically their only free safety.
Just because somebody can do something doesn’t mean it’s in their interests or your interests to ask them to do it. The Steelers are best when Fitzpatrick is playing free safety, period. Any free safety is going to roll down into the slot from time to time as a natural progression of their job, but to have it develop into a more expansive sub-package is another matter.
Between Norwood, Arthur Maulet, and James Pierre, there is really no reason for the Steelers to be thinking about moving Fitzpatrick around more than they have to. If they do move him around, it should only be in the service of putting him in more positions to make plays, not to shore up another position.