So I remember writing a couple weeks ago that when I saw “Steelers trade for Dolphins Fitzpatrick” scrolling across the bottom line, I assumed it was for Ryan Fitzpatrick so they could work to replace the injured Ben Roethlisberger and banged up Mason Rudolph. When I found out it was for the other Fitzpatrick on the Miami roster, I was genuinely shocked and confused, wondering what Pittsburgh was doing.
They knew exactly what they were doing and Minkah Magic is alive and well in the Steel City.
Fitzpatrick intercepted a Jared Goff pass with under a minute to go in the game as the Steelers downed the Rams 17-12. In case you haven’t noticed, Pittsburgh has now won five of its last six games, stands at 5-4 overall, and holds down the last AFC playoff spot.
Earlier this season, I also wrote that the Steelers defense was playing well, but it just wasn’t good enough. That was true at the time, but bringing Fitzpatrick into the fold has energized and upped the level of play in the secondary. It’s given the defensive line just that split second more it needs to get to the QB. It’s made opposing teams have to throw into tighter windows and make mistakes like thinking there is an opening when all there is a pair of yellow gloves and black jerseys in the way.
In short, his presence has made the team better. How much better? Five Fitzpatrick interceptions in seven games better and at least one takeaway in every game since he has been on the team.
Rarely is one guy the difference in such a big way. When the Steelers were 0-3, without their big playmakers from a season or two ago, you wouldn’t have thought they were one guy away from turning it around. They still may be that one guy away, but different players have stepped up on the offensive end and Rudolph has performed better than expected. Make no mistake though, Fitzpatrick has been the key. Everything he does on defense has made this team better. In addition to what we mentioned above, he gets the team off the field and gives the offense more plays. That gives Jaylen Samuel an opportunity to get more touches, a result of which is often more points for Pittsburgh.
Mike Tomlin knew what he was doing in going after Minkah Fitzpatrick. It’s one reason why he deserves serious Coach of the Year consideration.
Steelers Week 11 Odds While Taking on the Browns in Thursday Night Football
With all this said, we’ve still only played through week 10. There’s a lot of ball left. That ball starts with a short week in Cleveland. I’m not sure how, but the Browns are a 2.5 point favorite. I get the game is in Cleveland. I get the Baker/OBJ factor. Maybe Vegas sees something I don’t, but I think the Steelers getting points in this game is a gift. A gift that you should take and run with before someone wakes up. When you have a wild gunman in Baker Mayfield playing against a defense the way the Steelers are now, that’s usually a pretty good recipe for at least two turnovers from the QB alone.
Also, for what it’s worth, if you can still get odds on a Steelers win total this year, which might not be a bad bet. Pittsburgh came into the season at 9.5 wins as the over-under. At 5-4, 10 wins might be a tough ask, but when the remaining schedule goes Browns-Bengals-Browns-Cardinals-Bills-Jets before a season finale against the Ravens, it’s not an unrealistic expectation either.