PITTSBURGH — When Minkah Fitzpatrick wanted out of Miami in 2019, it was his usage that was highlighted as one of the main reasons. The team, head coached by now Steelers senior defensive assistant Brian Flores, used Fitzpatrick in multiple spots. He was primarily a slot cornerback but worked as a dimebacker, free safety, and strong safety.
However, all the constant moving around made Fitzpatrick feel like his development was stunted a little bit. When he was traded to the Steelers, their vision was clear that he was going to be a full-time free safety. Without that, Fitzpatrick may not be a two-time All-Pro or anywhere near the player he is today.
“I’ve evolved a lot,” Fitzpatrick said. “My first game as a Steeler in San Francisco was my first time playing full-time free safety. My first two games in Miami I was moving around a bit, and that was the only time I played free safety before in the league. I played there in like four games in college. But I think from that time now, I’ve learned the type of player I am. I’ve learned my strengths and weaknesses. I feel like being able to form my identity has helped me evolve into the player I am today.”
When Flores was hired in Pittsburgh, there were some questions about how that fit could work out. Fitzpatrick shot down any ideas of animosity still between himself and Flores. Instead, Fitzpatrick is looking forward to working with Flores and getting ready to work with him. In fact, his detail-oriented style is what Fitzpatrick thinks the team needs to help them win more games in 2022.
“It’s been good,” Fitzpatrick said. “You know, Coach Flores is a great coach. He’s a smart guy. He’s a guy that lives to a high standard and a piece that I think we really needed. He’s a real detail-oriented guy. He is a detail-oriented coach. He won’t let things get brushed to the side. He is going to address them directly. He might not tell you how you want to hear it, but he’s going to tell you. That’s important to have in the locker room. When you have guys in there with egos and that, he’s still going to get on you. He’s a great coach and I’m excited to have him. He’s focused on winning and I’m happy to have him here.”
As such, it is likely that Fitzpatrick and Flores are going to have a good collaborative relationship in Pittsburgh.