Minkah Fitzpatrick getting ‘soccer justice’ with Pittsburgh Steelers

The takeaway tear of Pittsburgh free security Minkah Fitzpatrick isn’t Fitzmagic, it’s “football justice,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin mentioned.

“Minkah is a level-headed guy, and his play is steeped in preparation,” Tomlin said. “I haven’t been round him very lengthy. None of us have. However everyone knows he has a love for soccer, and it’s displayed within the urgency with which he works every day, not solely on the sphere however within the classroom. He’s simply very skilled, and so it’s soccer justice so far as we’re involved.

“It isn’t something mystical. He would not have a rabbit’s foot in his pocket. He is making ready and profiting from alternatives, so it is cheap to anticipate it to proceed supplied we’re in an surroundings the place these performs occur. You already know, you are up on individuals, you get them considerably one-dimensional, you get extra alternatives for these sort splash performs, so it is not occurring in a vacuum for him. It is part of how video games are unfolding as properly.”

In his seven video games with the Steelers, Fitzpatrick has 5 interceptions, one fumble restoration and one compelled fumble. The previous Alabama All-American returned the fumble recovery for a touchdown on Sunday in Pittsburgh’s 17-12 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, and he took an interception back 96 yards for a TD in a 26-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts within the sport earlier than that.

“There ain’t no ball magnets,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s just being in the right position. It’s just making sure I’m in the right spot, and also my teammates, they’re hitting the ball, they’re getting to the quarterback and just being around the ball.”

The Steelers obtained Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 16 in alternate for a first-round choice within the 2020 NFL Draft.

“I think it is still in progress,” Tomlin said in regards to the commerce. “It is difficult to get on a moving train. I tip my cap to Minkah in terms of doing so, but I just think he is going to get more and more comfortable with each passing week in terms of not only gaining an understanding about the detail of what we are asking him to do but also how it fits into the big picture, and he can really start focusing on some of the things that he is looking at from an opponent perspective. I just think he is getting increasingly more comfortable with each passing week, and I think that is why you see the uptick in his production and thus ours.”

The Steelers had misplaced their first two video games and confronted the remainder of the season with out quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after they obtained Fitzpatrick. In his first sport with Pittsburgh, Fitzpatrick intercepted a move and compelled a fumble, however the Steelers misplaced to the San Francisco 49ers 24-20 on Sept. 22.

Since then, Pittsburgh has gained 5 of its six video games, with the one loss a 26-23 additional time setback towards the Baltimore Ravens.

The Steelers’ protection had two takeaways after the primary two video games. Within the seven video games with Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh has 24, and ranks second within the NFL in takeaways behind the New England Patriots.

“We’ve been open about: We need turnovers,” Tomlin said. “Nice defenses get themselves off the sphere. Nice defenses rise up within the face of adversity when placed on the brief area. So we’ve labored arduous in that space.

“It starts first with the acquisition of guys that are capable in that area. Can’t say enough about Minkah, for example. I mean, really. The tear he’s on is what it is. It needs no endorsement from me. But it’s also our approach.”

The Steelers will kick off Week 11 of the NFL’s 2019 season after they go to the Cleveland Browns at 7:20 p.m. CST Thursday for an AFC North rivalry sport. FOX, NFL Community and Amazon Prime Video will televise the sport.

In fact, the Browns have taken discover of Fitzpatrick’s play.

“The ball appears to search out him,” Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens said. “He’s doing an excellent job of finding the ball, enjoying his assignments and he appears to be in the fitting place loads of instances. He’s an excellent participant, one in every of many who they’ve. …

“He is all the time in the fitting spot. He is nice along with his eyes. It is virtually like he is aware of the place the ball goes earlier than it may be there. He does an excellent job of being the place he is presupposed to be after which being the place he isn’t presupposed to be when there is a play to be made.”

The Browns beat the Buffalo Payments 19-16 on Sunday to interrupt a four-game shedding streak and enhance to 3-6. Cleveland misplaced 17 turnovers in its first seven video games. However the Browns have performed back-to-back video games with no turnover.

To maintain that streak going, Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield may have to pay attention to Fitzpatrick.

“He does an awesome job studying quarterbacks’ eyes,” Mayfield said. “There are some coverages and issues they do this permit him to have some freedom to be the playmaker that he actually is. He has made loads of performs. He has put himself in good positions to win and create these turnovers, after which their move rush has been a unit that has created some chaos up entrance, so it permits them within the backend to play freely much more.”

Pittsburgh cornerback Joe Haden mentioned coaches, opponents and Fitzpatrick can discuss in regards to the contributions that the Steelers’ defensive method and teamwork have made to the protection’s takeaway spree, he is aware of higher.

“It’s nothing we’re doing,” Haden said. “It’s him. That man is balling. …

“He’s in the fitting place on a regular basis.”

Tomlin mentioned Fitzpatrick’s contributions to the Steelers’ turnaround should not be stunning.

“This guy made plays probably at every level of football he has ever played,” Tomlin mentioned. “I know I was really impressed with his Alabama tape. He was taken extremely high in the draft. We traded a first-rounder for him. I do not think it is an unknown thing about his nose for the ball or his general awareness of football abilities.”

Mark Inabinett is a sports activities reporter for Alabama Media Group. Comply with him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.

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