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Minkah Fitzpatrick Named Steelers Non-QB MVP By ESPN

The Pittsburgh Steelers have not had too many bright spots this season as they have gotten out to a disappointing 2-6 record, one of the worst in the NFL. In their pre-Week 10 Power Rankings, ESPN has the Steelers ranked as the 29th-best team in the NFL something that even the most die-hard Steelers fans would have a tough time disagreeing with. However, while the ranking was not too controversial, what was somewhat controversial was that ESPN’s Steelers beat reporter Brooke Pryor ranked safety Minkah Fitzpatrick the teams’ non-quarterback MVP. Here is what she had to say about why Fitzpatrick was given this honor.

“On a team for whom no one is playing consistently, it was difficult to pick anyone as the MVP, quarterback or not” Pryor wrote. “Even Fitzpatrick hasn’t played up to his usual standard in every game, but he is still a difference-maker and has notched three interceptions, including a Week 1 pick-six.”

Pittsburgh’s quarterback play has been subpar all season, so even if they were including quarterbacks, neither Mitch Trubisky nor Kenny Pickett would be winning this “award.” But, one can make a compelling argument for Alex Highsmith to be the Steelers’ MVP.

Highsmith has recorded 6.5 sacks on the season so far and was leading the league in sacks a few weeks earlier in the season. He currently sits tied for 12th place on the sack leaderboard, alongside Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea. However, over the past few weeks, Highsmith has cooled off and the Steelers’ ability to get the quarterback hasn’t been all that successful either this season. Highsmith hasn’t notched a sack since Pittsburgh’s week six win over the Buccaneers. In fact, three of his 6.5 sacks came in the Steelers’ Week One win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Given Highsmith’s relative struggles the last few weeks, I can understand why Fitzpatrick was named the Steelers MVP this season. He has had a few bad plays for sure, with the Gabriel Davis and AJ Brown touchdowns sticking out, he has been mostly good and has made some big splash plays. Without his pick-six versus the Bengals, the Steelers do not win that game, and he made a huge hit in the Miami Dolphins game to break up a pass that was intended for Raheem Mostert which would have set up the Dolphins with a 1st and Goal. Instead, Miami was held to a field goal and that played a large part in keeping the Steelers in the game until the very end.

However, while I understand the Fitzpatrick choice by Pryor for team MVP I think there is a better one. I think that his safety partner, Terrell Edmunds is Pittsburgh’s MVP so far this season. While Edmunds has not made the splash plays that Fitzpatrick has, he has made virtually no mistakes this season. When the Steelers were missing Edmunds in the Buffalo Bills game the void that was left was extremely noticeable. He was not the sole reason the Steelers got boat raced out of Orchard Park, but his veteran presence on the back end likely would have kept the game a bit closer. Even looking at the New York Jets game, after Edmunds left with a concussion, that was when Zach Wilson and the Jets offense really got going.

When Edmunds returned against the Buccaneers the Steelers had arguably their best defensive performance of the season in their upset win despite the rest of the starting secondary being out with injuries. He has always faced a lot of criticism because of where he was drafted and his lack of splash plays. Yet it is time that he gets his flowers because he has, in my opinion, been the most consistent player on this Steelers team this season.

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