When the EDGE rankings came out for the newest version of Madden, everyone was in an uproar about Steelers OLB T.J. Watt not topping the list at his respective position. Despite tying the single-season sack record last season and being the most dominant player at his position in the league, he received a 96 overall rating, falling short to Browns DE Myles Garrett who was granted the prestigious 99 overall rating by the game. Garrett was certainly deserving of a high rating given his 16-sack performance last season, but Watt dusted him in nearly every statistical category in 2021, yet still fell behind him.
What ranking could be more egregious than that? Oh, let me tell you.
Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick signed a four-year extension this offseason to make him the highest-paid safety in NFL history. Since the team traded for him back in 2019, he has been a revelation for the defense. Since showing up in Pittsburgh, Fitzpatrick has 27 pass deflections, 11 INTs, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and three defensive TDs.
He wasn’t ranking inside the top ten at his position.
Minkah Fitzpatrick came in as the 11th-best safety according to the game’s rankings and the fifth-ranked free safety behind Kevin Byard, Justin Simmons, Micah Hyde, and Jessie Bates per Alex Kozora. Former Steelers S Ryan Clark agreed with his reaction on NFL Live which can be seen below at the :56-mark per YouTube.
Fitzpatrick technically had a “down year” last season, only notching two picks compared to higher numbers last season. However, more was put onto his plate as the last line of defense since the defense itself was so bad at stopping the run. With the front seven struggling to get off blocks and clog up running lanes, running backs often found themselves running free into the secondary, leaving Fitzpatrick as the last man standing to prevent long touchdown runs. Due to this, Fitzpatrick paced the team in tackles last season with 124 (84 solo), the most by a Steelers DB all-time.
The ability of Fitzpatrick to adapt on the fly from being more of a ballhawk centerfielder to a guy running the alley as a tackler speaks to his skill set and capability to do what is required of him regardless of the situation. Had the defense played more up-to-par like in previous seasons, we likely would have seen his INT numbers higher, a likely reason why he was dinged in the rankings. Couple that with the face that he is often recognized as a top two-to-three safety in the league and the highest-paid one at that, having him come in at 11th overall is insulting.
T.J. Watt’s ranking in Madden 23 is a joke, no doubt about that. However, I would argue Fitzpatrick’s ranking is more disrespectful. It will likely take the defense returning to 2019/2020 level of play for the Steelers’ stars to get the credit they rightfully deserve from the outside, and likely a playoff appearance to boot. Still, for a team that has been lauded for the impact players they have on the defensive side of the football, Madden still has found a way to do them dirty.