Minkah Fitzpatrick On Run Defense: ‘We Haven’t Changed Anything We Are Doing’

Until the Pittsburgh Steelers prove that they can stop the run better than what they did a year ago, the defense will continue to be held under the microscope.

Prior to Pittsburgh Week 1 matchup to kick of the regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals, the ongoing topic on the defensive side of the football has pertained to how this unit will improve compared to last year’s unit that finished dead last in the league in rushing yards allowed and yards per carry allowed. T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, and DC Teryl Austin have all been asked the same question this week as they prepare to face RB Joe Mixon who ran for 255 yards in two games against them last season, all going back to the execution of fundamentals and each man doing his job to keep a lid on the running game.

The media asked S Minkah Fitzpatrick the same question Thursday, stating that a change in scheme isn’t necessary if the defense simply executes what is called.

“We haven’t changed anything we are doing,” Fitzpatrick said to the media Thursday after practice according to video from Pittsburgh Tribune’s Chris Adamski’s Twitter page. “Last year we just didn’t do our job. We didn’t execute. Too many big plays. Couldn’t stop the run. Stuff like that.”

Fitzpatrick had to step up with the front seven struggling last year against the run as he paced the team in total tackles with 124 total stops (84 solo). He often was the last line of defense as running backs would burst through the LOS untouched due to someone being out of position or failing to fill a gap, leaving Fitzpatrick one-on-one with the runner in open space. He often did a good job of getting the ballcarrier to the ground, but only after ripping off an explosive play.

With Tyson Alualu back healthy and the additions of Larry Ogunjobi and Myles Jack to the front seven, the defense should be upgraded personnel-wise from last season to better stop the run. Now they simply must go out there and execute. After watching how bad they were last season, it would be tempting for DC Teryl Austin to scrap everything that they used to do for a new game plan or scheme, but instead, he believes the scheme can work if everyone does their job like the run defense did in the seasons prior to 2021. Minkah Fitzpatrick sees it the same way, stating that a change in scheme isn’t necessary as long as everyone is on the same page.

“We’re not coming in here trying to revamp everything that we’re doing,” Fitzpatrick continued. “We’re coming in here saying, ‘Look, we do our job and execute’.”

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