Once again, it doesn’t seem like a Tuesday unless we are graced with words from Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin from his weekly press conference. Since it is unlikely we will hear from coach Tomlin again until the draft, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting quotes Tomlin has given us this past season.
We’ve experienced several “Throwback Tomlin Tuesday” quotes so far this off-season. So far we have re-lived the following:
A nose guard is like Blockbuster video
We weren’t ready for prime time tonight
So that’s how you lay an egg
We’ve got to make plays
I’m not a doctor
As we continue trough the 2019 season, let’s go back to the first press conference following the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick before the Steelers’ Week 3 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. In his opening statement, coach Tomlin addressed the trade.
“We went out and acquired Minkah from the Dolphins,” Tomlin stated. “We really studied Minkah really closely in the process leading up to the draft.”
When the Steelers were first rumored to be one of the teams interested in trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick early in the 2019 season, it was reported the Steelers spent time with him before the NFL draft the previous year. Although they knew they really didn’t have a shot at selecting Fitzpatrick where they were picking unless they trade it up or had a repeat of the Rod Woodson situation, being thorough prior to the draft it made it a much easier decision to pull the trigger on the trade.
“It was no secret that we were in the market for a high end safety,” Tomlin said in reference to the Steelers 2018 draft needs. “In fact, we ended up drafting Edmunds later in the round. We did our due diligence. We looked at Minkah. We knew it was somewhat of a pipe dream because of his global positioning in the draft. But having gone down there for both Alabama pro days and interviewed him and spend time with him, it really made this process a clean process for Kevin and I in terms of decision making because we had spent that time with him, we did evaluate him, and we did have a great deal of comfort in his abilities.”
Although he had a rough start to the 2019 season in Miami, the Steelers knew what they were getting in Fitzpatrick in order to make the trade. Even though Sean Davis did not suffer his injury until Sunday, the Steelers were rumored to be in the market for Fitzpatrick before they took the field Week 2.
Tomlin went on to explain how they were going to use Fitzpatrick in the near future as he jumped aboard the moving train.
“We’re excited infusing him into the fold. He will be playing the safety position this weekend in the game. We’re going to quickly get him up to speed. He’s on the ground now as we speak, so we’ve got almost a full week to prepare him to play.”
One of the reasons the Steelers believed Fitzpatrick would help bring together their secondary was his high football IQ. Fitzpatrick was not going to have the benefit of an off-season with the Steelers, so his ability to communicate in the secondary and understand the coverages would be key in his performance.
“He’s a sharp guy,” Tomlin explained. “That was very evident in getting to know him in the draft process. It’s also really evident when you watch Miami Dolphin tape and see the number of things that they asked him to do during his time there positionally. He played corner, outside corner, inside corner, both safety positions, sub package linebacker positions. You can’t do the many things that the Dolphins asked him to do schematically without being a really sharp guy.”
Tomlin went on to make sure the expectations for Fitzpatrick we’re not going to be too high for him as he adjusted to playing in Pittsburgh. Little did he realize, Minkah was about to make some very big plays in his first game in black and gold with an interception and a forced fumble.
“At some point, it’s going to be an asset to us, but obviously in the short term, we’re not going to move him around a great deal. This first time out we’re going to anchor him down and allow him to focus on one position and put him in the very best position to be a positive contributor to our efforts this weekend that way. Really excited about the acquisition.”
It’s very interesting how Tomlin mentioned the notion of eventually moving Fitzpatrick around in the Steelers’ defense. Within the past week, Fitzpatrick stated he is looking forward to being used in various places in 2020 in order to disguise where he will be utilized on the field. With teams avoiding Fitzpatrick as much as they could over the last seven games of the season, moving Fitzpatrick around would be a benefit to the defense. But, as fans, we need to keep in mind that moving around the field does not necessarily mean playing a different position.
After an exciting 2019 season, being able to expand on Fitzpatrick‘s role in the Steelers defense could make for an even more exciting 2020.