Last week I broke down Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James film, to give Dolphin fans a good idea of what kind of safety they are looking for. I included other safeties as well, but that is irrelevant at this point.
On the show, I compared and contrasted both Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James. Both players, to my surprise were available at Miami’s pick. I even had that option in my Mock Draft, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to actually happen. Regardless, it did happen and the Dolphins decided that Minkah Fitzpatrick was their guy. Here is why:
It’s no secret that Alabama defenders are very well coached and play heads up football. They are versatile and play with an edge. Minkah is more than that, he has all of those things, mixed with a passion for football and the leadership that Miami’s secondary is sorely lacking. Minkah gets the defense in position and makes changes at the LOS, as evident in the play below.
Watching this play live; you can see Minkah recognized the play at the line of scrimmage and called an audible. He changed the defensive play call to a blitz. Nobody stayed into block, and Evans blitz the QB for the sack. That was due to Minkah’s play calling, the kind of communication the Dolphins are lacking.
Fitzpatrick offers the ability to step up in the slot and cover. Look how he gains inside leverage and plays under the receiver, forcing the receiver to the deep safety. His awareness to know where the safety is on the field is heads up.
Fitzpatrick takes the immediately threat away. The tight end is running a route underneath to allow him a short pass and catch for the TD. Minkah takes that look away and the quarterback forces it for the interception. Great coverage by Fitzpatrick on the play.
How about ball skills? It’s been a long time since Miami has had a playmaker in the secondary, but Minkah gives them just that. He falls off his coverage and drifts back towards the outside receiver and stays under neath to make the interception. He tricked the QB into thinking the receiver was open.
He wasn’t done, he took that interception to the house!
Here is playing safety over top and reading the routes. He stays with the deep post and plays over top. Even with a better throw, he is in position to break the pass up. The corner got his hands on the ball here, but if he doesn’t Minkah has a chance at his fourth interception of the day here.
One more: Minkah Fitzpatrick takes away one TE in 11 personnel. Ronnie Harrison takes the other TE. Notice the quarterback likes the match up with Harrison more than he does with Minkah. It shows how good minkah is to cover a TE one on one in the red zone.
Minkah is a playmaker that can be used all over the field. He allows Matt Burke to get creative all of the time. He can blitz Jones AND McDonald allowing Minkah to stay back and cover. McDonald can get more looks as a linebacker, especially on passing downs. Fitzpatrick can even be used to blitz or cover the tight ends and running backs.
Minkah Fitzpatrick allows the defense to be less vulnerable to changes at the line of scrimmage, while giving the Dolphins that true leader and voice in the secondary.
Fitzpatrick adds to a young, talented defense already in, Raekwon McMillan, Charles Harris, Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, Cordrea Tankersely, Xavien Howard, and Bobby McCain. The Dolphins are building a quality core defensive unit for the long term.