By Logan Leslie
So far, the Pittsburgh Steelers season has been a roller coaster ride. After starting 0-3 and losing their future Hall of Fame quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger for the season, the team has managed to rally and put together a three game winning streak. To overcome such a big loss, they have needed to lean on numerous players to be playmakers — but no player has been more impactful than their new safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The Steelers shocked the NFL when they traded their 2020 first round draft pick for the 22 year old, 2nd year safety out of Alabama. The move was met with mixed opinions and left some within the media scratching their heads, wondering why a team who was considered to be in the running for a top 10 pick would trade away such a valuable asset to the future. Fast forward about two months later and the headlines read much different. For example, Sporting News released an article today titled, “The Steelers Didn’t Trade Away their Future – They Stole Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins”. Sometimes you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, but a lot of individuals within the media were proven to be very wrong only seven weeks after the move.
As a whole, the Steelers defense has been among the top five in the league since the trade and trails only the 8-1 New England Patriots in takeaways with 22. Fitzpatrick has amassed 30 total tackles, 6 passes defended, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a 96-yard touchdown off of an interception. NFL Next Gen Stats released a comparison on deep pass defense before and after the trade. The Steelers had previously allowed 4 completions on 7 attempts and 3 touchdowns for a passer rating of 141.4 on deep balls. Since the trade, they have allowed only 3 completions on 15 attempts for no touchdowns, 3 interceptions and a passer rating of 10.8. Note the Steelers have been among the worst in the league the last few seasons on deep shots, it’s not a coincidence this turnaround has been so immediate. It’s been what some in Pittsburgh have called the Minkah effect.
— NFL (@NFL) November 5, 2019
The Steelers still have a steep hill to climb if they want to make the playoffs, but with such immense improvement on the defensive side of the ball, the pressure on the offense to score points is slightly relieved with short fields from the high number of forced turnovers. Minkah is becoming an All-Pro safety at only 22 years of age. Kevin Colbert made the right move trading for a proven player over attempting to draft someone who may or may not pan out. We have found another cornerstone for the future whether the media wants to admit it or not.
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