Earlier this week, Pittsburgh Steelers‘ defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick has left off a list of the Top 100 players in the NFL, and on Friday, he told the author on Twitter he appreciated “the fuel” to try and be even better for next season. Fitzpatrick took to the social media platform to address his omission by Pete Prisco of CBS Sports.
Prisco listed the players he personally thought were the best of the best and put Fitzpatrick among the 34 players that “just missed” the Top 100. The analyst left Fitzpatrick out despite the fact that the defensive back got his first All-Pro nod after the 2019 season. Prisco put seven safeties on his list ahead of the Steelers star. Tyrann Mathieu, Harrison Smith, Jamal Adams, Derwin James, Justin Simmons, Jimmie Ward, and Kevin Byard are all better than Fitzpatrick according to Prisco.
As AL.com reported, the analyst then went on CBS Sports HQ and defended his list by saying he even went back and “checked the tape” on Fitzpatrick. “As far as Minkah Fitzpatrick, there were better safeties last year,” Prisco said. “Everybody keeps harping on Minkah Fitzpatrick; Jimmie Ward played better than Minkah Fitzpatrick.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2020
Fitzpatrick started the 2019 season with the Miami Dolphins but was traded to the Steelers after just two games. While he had moved all over the secondary for the Dolphins, he was set at free safety for the Steelers. Apparently comfortable to be in one spot in the lineup, he posted a Pro Bowl season recording 68 tackles, intercepted five passes, broke up nine passes, forced two fumbles, and recovered three fumbles. He returned one interception and one fumble for touchdowns.
The defender was considered one of the best players in the league by most analysts entering the 2019 season as well. Despite only starting 11 of the 16 games he played as a rookie in 2018, Fitzpatrick still put up eye-popping numbers in the defensive backfield for the Dolphins. He recorded 80 total tackles as well as two interceptions, two tackles for loss, nine passes defended, and two interceptions. He returned one of those INTs 50 yards for a touchdown.
Fitzpatrick’s numbers were impressive enough to most analysts but there was also a general improvement across the board for the Steelers when he arrived. In the two games before he came to Pittsburgh, the Steelers allowed 30 points per game. After the trade, the defense allowed just 17.9 points per contest. In the first two weeks of the 2019 season the team allowed an average of 320 passing yards per game. After Fitzpatrick’s arrival they allowed just 176.7 yards per contest through the air.