How you practice is how you play. With the way the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense is playing, they must not be practicing well enough. That’s Minkah Fitzpatrick’s conclusion, who told reporters Monday the team should change its approach to practice going forward. He highlighted two areas he would alter.
“I think there’s certain things that have to change,” he said in audio provided by the team. “How we move throughout the week. Whether it be getting more reps in practice, going at it at a faster pace during walkthroughs and stuff like that. This is my personal opinion that I haven’t discussed it with anybody yet. I think kind of a lot of people feel the same way about that.”
A pretty damning comment, but a warranted one considering the team’s abysmal last two performances, especially yesterday’s loss against the Cincinnati Bengals. Even with Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt’s return, the defense allowed 34 points. They again struggled out of the gate, allowing points on four of five first-half drives, three touchdowns and a field goal. The run defense continues to be among the worst in the league, 31st in yards per carry, the pressure rate has tanked, and splash plays are nowhere to be found.
Intuitively, that should force the team to reevaluate all its decisions, Monday through Sunday, which includes practice habits. But Fitzpatrick’s last comment there, noting other players feel the same way as Fitzpatrick does, is the key one.
Obviously, we aren’t practice and even if we were, we wouldn’t be allowed to report on its inner-workings. It’s clear something must change. The organization’s entire approach must be looked at. Pittsburgh needs to make radical corrections and quickly if they want any chance of making the playoffs, facing the league’s most difficult schedule the rest of the way. Next Sunday is a matchup against an 8-3 Ravens’ team, one that can run the ball and stop the run with the best of them, putting Pittsburgh in an even more difficult spot as their season hangs in the balance.
It will be impossible for us to know if the Steelers make practice changes unless players – like Fitzpatrick did here – talk about it. But Fitzpatrick has made his thoughts clear. Pittsburgh needs to make a change. An understatement if there ever was one.