Experience Creating More Versatility For Minkah Fitzpatrick

The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Miami Dolphins in Miami this Sunday, which means Minkah Fitzpatrick will be making his return to play in the stadium he started his career in. Fitzpatrick addressed what the trade meant for him earlier this week

Today, Steelers defensive coordinator and former defensive back coach Teryl Austin came out and talked about how Fitzpatrick has been used in Pittsburgh. 

In his weekly press conference as transcribed by the team, Austin was asked about how Fitzpatrick’s utilization on defense has evolved in his four years time in Pittsburgh. 

“I know when we first got him, we got him here that one week and we just kind of played him in one position and we tried to do some things and work to his strengths,” Austin said. “As he’s evolved and we’ve gotten to know Minkah and Minkah knows us, and we know all the different things we can do.”

When Fitzpatrick came to Pittsburgh, he came midseason and midweek before the Steelers flew out to San Francisco to face the San Francisco 49ers. Despite having to learn the playbook in less than a week, the Steelers’ new defensive back made a big impact, intercepting a pass and forcing a fumble in the Steelers’ 24-20 defeat. 

That season was Fitzpatrick’s coming out party, as he played primarily as the deep center fielder at free safety. The 2019 season led to Fitzpatrick notching five interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles. For his play that season he earned his first Pro Bowl selection and his first First Team All-Pro Selection. 

However, after the 2019 season head coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers’ defensive staff including Teryl Austin decided to move Fitzpatrick around a bit. While he does not play the nickel corner like he was sometimes asked to during his time in Miami, sometimes Fitzpatrick will play in the box and come in as a blitzer. This versatility was on full display in the 2021 season opener against the Buffalo Bills, when Fitzpatrick was all over the field. In fact, due to the Steelers’ banged up defensive line, Fitzpatrick was called upon a lot to help the run defense throughout the 2021 season as he logged 124 total tackles.

It would be an understatement to say the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick has transformed the Pittsburgh defense. He is a jack of all trades defensive back and can do anything that is asked of him at a very high level. This Sunday night, Austin and Tomlin will have a chance to move Fitzpatrick around so he can once again show what talent Miami missed out on after trading him. 

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