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Minkah Fitzpatrick in top 5 of the Steelers Week 9 Pro Football Focus grades

In the grades provided by PFF, Minkah Fitzpatrick receives his top score of 2021.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their winning streak at home on Monday night and now look to face their second-straight NFC opponent at home. Despite losing a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Steelers offense moved into position to recapture the lead late while the defense kept the Bears far enough away from a realistic field goal attempt.

But how did the individual players grade out?

For this exercise, we will be looking at the player grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for their Week 9 performance. These scores are just from Monday’s game and not for the entire season. Before going any further, I must give the typical disclaimer that PFF grades are subjective. While some people rely on them heavily, others are quite skeptical of the process in which they are determined. It is completely up to each person as to how much stock they put into PFF’s grades. For me, I often look at the grades to see if my own “eye test” lines up with what others viewed as how a player performed. If nothing more, the grades create a discussion about how accurate, or inaccurate, they are each week.

Instead of looking at the entire team at once, we break up the scores into offense and defense. First up is the defense. Included will be all the players who played at least one snap and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 62 snaps on defense in Week 9.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

DT Cam Heyward: 85.4 (52 snaps)
OLB T.J. Watt: 73.5 (56 snaps)
OLB Taco Charlton: 67.8 (16 snaps)
CB James Pierre: 65.8 (10 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 65.0 (62 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

S Terrell Edmunds: 53.0 (62 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 49.6 (12 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 48.9 (50 snaps)
OLB Derrek Tuszka: 34.8 (5 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 27.8 (23 snaps)


Defensive Front Seven

DT Cam Heyward: 85.4 (52 snaps)
OLB T.J. Watt: 73.5 (56 snaps)
OLB Taco Charlton: 67.8 (16 snaps)
DT Isaiah Buggs: 62.2 (26 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 59.3 (49 snaps)
DT Henry Mondeaux: 57.3 (11 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 49.6 (12 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 48.9 (50 snaps)
OLB Derrek Tuszka: 34.8 (5 snaps)

It seems as if Cam Hayward and T.J. Watt are simply swapping positions each week as the two of them are generally the top two for the entire defense. It was nice to see Taco Charlton grade out well in his limited playing time. The only thing from this list which differs from my own eye test is I felt Chris Wormley was around plays on several occasions and did not expect him to be graded so low. Then again, I’m only thinking of a handful of plays and not every time he was on the field.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Robert Spillane: 63.0 (10 snaps)
ILB Joe Schobert: 56.5 (52 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 54.2 (52 snaps)

The bad news is none of the inside linebackers were in the top five. The good news is that none of the inside linebackers were in the bottom five. Although Schobert did not grade as well this week, both Robert Spillane and Devin Bush saw improvement in their scores. Pretty much being “middle of the road,” one statistic of note according to PFF is that the inside linebackers did not have any missed tackles. In all, the Steelers were only credited with two missed tackles by PFF and they were by Cam Hayward and Chris Wormley. Both Bush (78.9) and Schobert (76.0) had quality tackling grades.

Defensive Backs

CB James Pierre: 65.8 (10 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 65.0 (62 snaps)
CB Joe Haden: 58.6 (62 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 54.4 (62 snaps)
CB Tre Norwood: 53.1 (10 snaps)
S Terrell Edmunds: 53.0 (62 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 27.8 (23 snaps)

It’s great to see Minkah Fitzpatrick out of the very bottom, although his score was still not through the roof. Looking at the various players and their scores, it appears as large factor, other than the player’s performance on the field, is their responsibility from week to week. Sometimes when players are asked to do something different based on the game plan it can affect how it is interpreted by places such as PFF. For example, I feel Arthur Maulet was in downfield coverage much more than he had been throughout the 2021 season. Add on his per performance in those plays, and his score ends up at the bottom for the team.


So, what do you think of the above grades? Do they pass the eye test? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ defensive grades in the comments below.