Pittsburgh Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick recently appeared on the infamous sports talk-show, First Take, and established a prestigious goal for himself.
It may sound like the cliché, aiming for the top-of-the-totem pole type of saying but we can not fault the goals someone sets for themselves. To clarify, in a recent appearance with First Take, Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick dove into a few various topics while also being asked by co-host, Max Kellerman, “what are your goals for yourself as a player with your career right now”?
To be short, Minkah was clear in his response in saying “Definitely try to do the First-Team All-Pro. Definitely lead the DBs in at least 3-4 categories, [and] honestly I’m going to try to compete for the Defensive Player of the Year”. A loaded set of accomplishments, if done, it’s not ridiculous considering the talent Fitzpatrick. A level of play that continuously proved anyone wrong who mocked at the Steelers front office for trading a first-round pick for him, Minkah also stated that “last year I had a pretty good run at it and then towards the end of the season, teams stopped throwing at me and what not”. (see the full video below)
As humble as they come, this was a bulk to hear from Fitzpatrick. Regarded as one of the best young defensive talents in this league, and usually finding himself on Twitter polls from fans asking “which safety would you want your team to build around”, it’s not too far fetched but will be extremely difficult.
The 2000s Best
Since 2000, only 6 DBs have been to crown themselves the title of DPOY, CB Stephon Gilmore being the latest in 2019 and former Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu being the last safety to do it back in 2010. A feat that required being the outright leader to a collectively great defense, Fitzpatrick’s challenge not only exists with the elite talent of Gilmore, DT Aaron Donald, & DE Chandler Jones, but with his own teammate TJ Watt, who received the third-most votes (10) in 2019.
On a climb that will put him in history, the shine of Watt being an OLB that rushes extremely well is much more of a feature to the award than a safety. Take Polamalu & also former Steeler DE James Harrison for example. Statistics wise, the argument can be made Polamalu had a greater season in 08’ than his award-winning campaign in 2010, however, he was triumphed by fellow teammate Harrison.
In 2008, Harrison recorded more sacks (+5.5), tackles (+1), TFL (+1), but less QB hits (-2) & interceptions (-1) as compared to 2010. For Troy in 08’, he was also able to pick off the same amount of INTs (7), more pass deflections (+6), tackles (+10), but have 2 fewer QB hits & 1 TFL than in 2010. Granite two more games in 2008 could attribute to this for Polamalu, but the success of a dominating pass-rusher will more-times-than-not be favorable to voters than a dominating safety.
This isn’t in the means to undermine Fitzpatrick’s chances. An immense climb assuredly, Minkah is only entering his third-year in 2020 coming off an under-appreciated year with 5 INTs (tied-2nd among all safeties) & 9 deflections (tied-6th). Expectedly a better player than he was as a rookie, the leap will have to be even greater if he desires to fulfill this goal.
A trophy that might take a little bit more persona & in-season bravado from Fitzpatrick for the public to heat up his case for it as well, superstardom is around the corner for him without a doubt. A player that has been raved about since his monster days in college, this statement from the University of Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban is more than a simple political representation of one of his own.
Minkah has it. Even if people find this to be asinine & unachievable, there’s no denying the ceiling he came into the NFL with, and how he continues to elevate towards it.
A year that would be one for the books & make this defense even greater than it was in 2019, the boldness of Fitzpatrick is something to hope for & cheer about for his & the Steelers future.