Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus recently came out with his selections for the Early NFL All-Pro Team after the first four weeks of the 2022 season. After going through the list, only one Pittsburgh Steeler qualified for first or second team honors: S Minkah Fitzpatrick.
“Minkah Fitzpatrick has put together maybe the best month of his NFL career and has hit impressive highs far more consistently than he typically has,” Monson said on Fitzpatrick. “He has three interceptions and a pass breakup from his free safety role with the Steelers.”
Fitzpatrick is more than deserving of such an honor after being the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense since T.J. Watt injured his pec in Week 1 and was placed on IR, causing him to miss a minimum of four games. Watt would likely have made this list as well if it weren’t for the injury, but he’ll have the opportunity to play catch up should he return to the field in a timely manner.
Through four games, Fitzpatrick has 32 total stops (19 solo), four pass deflections, and three INTs with one returned for a TD. Fitzpatrick had the game of his life in Cincinnati Week 1, scoring on the pick-six while also blocking the extra point attempt at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. A game isn’t often decided on one particular play, but Pittsburgh would likely be staring at 0-4 to start the season if it weren’t for Fitzpatrick’s efforts against the Bengals in what was likely the best game of his professional career.
Fitzpatrick became known in Pittsburgh as a ballhawk after being acquired back in 2019, but he has proven to be an impact player in multiple aspects of the game. He led the team in tackles last season (124) and is on pace to beat that total again (136 in 17 games). He makes big plays against the run as often the last line of defense and lays the boom on receivers attempting to reel in the catch or in run support, forcing four fumbles and recovering five others in his five-year NFL career to date.
While Alex Highsmith ranks second in the league in sacks, Fitzpatrick has been Pittsburgh’s most impactful player on the defensive side of the football thus far in 2022. With Watt out of the lineup and Cam Heyward off to a slow start, look for the Steelers to rely on Fitzpatrick even more going forward as one of the best safeties in the league.