Minkah Fitzpatrick ‘Happy’ to be in Pittsburgh

Steelers safety set to face former team for first time

Josh Rowntree
October 23, 2019 - 12:57 pm

To Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, his next opponent is just the opponent, with a bunch of numbers on the field. 

Fitzpatrick, traded by Miami to the Steelers for a first-round pick on September 16, is set to face the Miami Dolphins for the first time Monday night after playing just 18 games with his former squad. 

“It’s another game, it’s another team, from a different city, a different state,” said Fitzpatrick, only referring to Miami’s players by jersey numbers, not names. “I’ve got to go out there, do my job, prepare like I usually do and play good ball. That’s it.”

Fitzpatrick requested a trade early in the season, perhaps reading the tea leaves on Miami’s dismal year to come. The Dolphins are 0-6, one of two winless teams remaining in the NFL. 

“I’m happy to be here,” Fitzpatrick said with a sense of relief. 

It's not as if the 2-4 Steelers are riding high right now. A myriad of injuries, including the loss of starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, has put the team into an uphill climb to making the playoffs. 

But Miami’s season is done. And it may be a while before the Dolphins are even decent again. 

With that, Fitzpatrick and the Steelers will look to pounce on a floundering opponent, and Fitzpatrick’s insight could be beneficial. Maybe. 

“I know the personnel very well,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve been around them for a long time. But schematically, they change things up, week-to-week.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin seems to think even less of that notion.

“Minkah didn’t spend a lot of time with those guys,” Tomlin said. “I would imagine it is not going to be significant, and also, they have covered a lot of ground since we acquired him. I am sure there are some things that are significantly different as they have acquired different people along the way and have adjusted to what it is they are doing now to meet their current mix of players.”

Changes at quarterback have been at the center of the problems in South Beach. Ryan Fitzpatrick started the season, with Josh Rosen taking over in Week Two. Both quarterbacks struggled, as Miami was outscored 163-16 through the first four weeks of the season. 

But Ryan Fitzpatrick, back in the starter’s saddle, showed some flash in last week’s loss in Buffalo, as Miami trailed by just three points before allowing an onside kick to be returned for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. 

“It’s a little bit different,” Minkah Fitzpatrick said of the quarterbacks. “’3’ (Rosen) is a little bit less experienced, so they try to put less on his plate. ’14’ (Fitzpatrick) is good, experienced, and makes good decisions with the ball. He can hold onto it a little bit more, throws people open, just stuff that older, more developed quarterbacks can do.”

Despite the lack of personal touch he put on his comments regarding his former teammates, Fitzpatrick does not feel there will be any hard feelings when they meet on Monday night. 

“It’s a business decision,” he said. “There’s other people that made business decisions prior to mine. I still communicate with players that are on the team, still talk to them. I grew close with a lot of players on the team and formed relationships with them. I don’t think they’re going to un-friend me because I play for a different team.”