A difference of opinion based on his usage ultimately led to current Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick requesting a trade from the Miami Dolphins in 2019 under then-head coach Brian Flores, a known defensive guru within NFL circles.
Just 16 games into his NFL career, Fitzpatrick found himself on the trade block due to a “difference of opinion in my skill set” with Flores during his time in Miami after being the No. 11 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Dolphins out of the University of Alabama.
“We had a difference of opinion in my skill set and what he thought I could do and what I thought I could do”, Fitzpatrick said regarding his final months in Miami during an interview with Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne in August 2020. “It was going to get tough for me to show something to somebody they were choosing not to see.
— Chris Fischer (@TheFischTank) September 17, 2019
“They didn’t give me the opportunity to show it, even though I had film that showed it,” Fitzpatrick added. “The losing and all that stuff? If I was put in the right position and we’re losing—because of decisions people made upstairs—it is what it is. I can only control how I play. That didn’t affect me at all.”
Now, after three seasons apart in which Fitzpatrick flourished, the two are reunited in Pittsburgh.
Concerns of bad blood or some general friction were quickly put to rest Thursday during Fitzpatrick’s press conference following his four-year, $73.6 million extension with the Steelers, as the star safety addressed the addition of Flores into the Steelers’ coaching staff, stating he’s happy to have the great defensive mind in Pittsburgh.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2022
Speaking with reporters Thursday from Heinz Field, Fitzpatrick credited Flores for being a great coach that is locked in on winning, adding that he’s excited to have him in Pittsburgh now.
“It’s been good. You know, Coach Flo [Flores], he’s a great coach. He’s a smart guy. He’s a guy that lives to a high standard, and he’s a piece that I think that we really needed,” Fitzpatrick said to reporters, according to video via the Steelers’ official YouTube page. “He’s a real detail-oriented guy, detail-oriented coach, and he’s not a guy that’s gonna let things just get brushed to the side. He’s gonna address ’em, he’s gonna be direct.
“He might not tell you exactly how you want to hear it, but he’s gonna tell you, you know what I’m saying?” Fitzpatrick added, according to video via the Steelers’ official YouTube page. “I think that’s important to have in the locker room, when you have guys that may have egos and whatnot. He’s gonna get on you. He’s a great coach. I’m excited to have him. He’s focused and locked in on winning, and that’s what his goal is and I’m happy to have him here.”
Sounds like all that frustration with his usage in Miami with Flores and the rest of the Dolphins’ coaching staff back then is water under the bridge. It should be, considering Fitzpatrick has evolved into a star safety in the NFL, tying himself to the free safety position, where he’s flourished as an All-Pro caliber safety that helped transform the Steelers’ defense overnight.
While Flores is a prideful guy, one that demands excellence and will hold guys accountable no matter their stature, there’s no doubt he knows he messed that situation up in Miami with Fitzpatrick, but he gets a second crack at coaching him now in a much more stable, winning environment.
There’s no telling the type of magic the two can make defensively in the Steel City.