Farabaugh: It’s Time to Give Terrell Edmunds Some Respect
PITTSBURGH — “He was a hub of communication.” That is a Mike Tomlin quote about none other than Terrell Edmunds, who was the lone Steelers regular in their hodgepodge secondary on Sunday.
Edmunds is not revered in any capacity in Pittsburgh. That much is very clear. Two topics seem to circle the starting strong safety’s career — Lamar Jackson and his underwhelming performances. Indeed, Edmunds was picked over Jackson, and that is something that can be maligned for ages.
However, his performance? Sure, Edmunds struggled badly as a young player when he was a raw 21-year-old who entered the league and was thrown into the starting lineup after Morgan Burnett proved to be unreliable. That version of Edmunds was a young upstart player who was trying to gain a sense of his surroundings. He never looked like he belonged.
On Sunday, Edmunds not only looked like he belonged, but he was the leader of a ragtag group that frustrated Tom Brady and company all afternoon. In reality, that is not a role that Edmunds will find himself in often with Minkah Fitzpatrick manning center field. But throughout the week, Edmunds led an inexperienced group of players, three of whom were on the practice squad to start the week, into battle against perhaps the greatest quarterback to ever touch a football.
It was that serious for the Steelers, and Edmunds passed the test with sparkling colors. He shut down the run game for a large portion of the afternoon, showcasing his above-average run defense. In coverage, Edmunds aligned all over the football field, from slot cornerback to free safety to strong safety. He does it every week, but on Sunday, it was his duty to make sure everyone was on the same page.
This performance was something that has become exemplary of Edmunds over the past two seasons. Whenever he goes out on the football field, Edmunds gives you what you know you will get. Does he make a ton of interceptions like Fitzpatrick? Not really. Is he going to make crazy rangy plays that result in the game flipping on its head? Again, probably not. That’s not the fabric Edmunds is from.
Then, there was the debacle in Buffalo. Coming into the game, the Steelers knew they would be down Edmunds and Ahkello Witherspoon. By the end of the game, Cam Sutton, Levi Wallace, and a hobble Minkah Fitzpatrick all ended up on the injury report. But it was Edmunds’ impact that was felt in the game. Pittsburgh does not allow many explosive plays over the top, and much of that is due to the high-level play of Edmunds.
The Steelers would not have won in Buffalo with Edmunds, but the synergy and roles he fills in the secondary are not easy to replace. It goes to understate just how many roles Edmunds has filled in Pittsburgh in the last two seasons.
Over the past two seasons, Edmunds has played strong safety, free safety, robber, box linebacker, slot cornerback, and dimebacker. That’s right, Edmunds fills six roles within one player. He is no longer the athletic rookie who needs to find his bearings. He is a versatile chess piece that is as valuable as they come to the Steelers’ defense.
Terrell Edmunds is in a lot of ways Pittsburgh’s iron man. He has only missed two games over his career, and since coming into the NFL, Edmunds has played over 4000 snaps. That’s no easy feat, and he logs snaps across multiple roles and positions. Rarely does Edmunds ever leave the field during play.
The Steelers have long had problems with tight ends hurting them throughout the mid-2010s. With Edmunds’ rise in the past few seasons, tight ends have gone away from being a significant issue for the Steelers. Edmunds, the team’s titled tight-end eraser, is a large reason why that occurs so often for Pittsburgh.
Terrell Edmunds does not miss many tackles on the field, either. Again, he is proving, over the past two seasons, to truly be a bastion of consistency for the Steelers. They can trust him in multiple roles and is a vocal leader in the locker room now as a fifth-year veteran.
Edmunds gets maligned a lot for his draft position and early career struggles. That’s fine. But he has grown into a true glue guy and the player who meshes the Steelers’ secondary together on the back end. It is time that he gets respect for the valuable role he plays within Pittsburgh’s defense week in and week out.