PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler addressed the media on Friday, July 31 after practice.
Butler has some certain expectations for the defense as the season nears.
While he didn’t go as far to say that 2019 wasn’t promising or that he wanted to see the defense immediately hit the ground running, Butler did make note of one particular player that he is expecting more from.
And that player is Minkah Fitzpatrick.
"Hopefully, we will be better wholly than last year.
"Minkah [Fitzpatrick] has been here for a year now.
"He’ll know the defense in and out.
"The guys have played together a little bit, so it gives us a chance to be pretty good, I hope."
Fitzpatrick joined the team early in the 2019 season after a trade with the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins had originally selected Fitzpatrick with the 11th pick of the 2018 Draft, but trouble started brewing during the early stages of a de facto tank for the South Beach team, and the defensive back from Alabama was shipped to the Steel City for a first-round pick.
Fitzpatrick took to the defense like a fish to water — just recently earning him the No. 35 spot in the NFL’s Top 100 Players, and he’ll be entering his third year in the league.
Butler didn't stop there, of course.
He also answered questions about higher hopes for the Steelers’ 2019 first-round linebacker Devin Bush.
Butler is expecting things to come along a little more quickly for Bush as he enters into his second season.
Butler is banking on the familiarity in the league and comfort with the defense as boons for Bush’s growth: "Of course, you want him to make a good jump for us.
"I think he will because things won’t be new to him.
"He’s done it before, and when he comes to training camp, we are going to expect more out of him.
"We are going to want him to help make calls and get the communication down.
"We think he’s capable of doing that.
"We think he’s really going to come alive for us a little bit this year.
"He played well for us last year as a rookie, but once you’ve been there—he’s seen the game a little bit.
"He knows the speed of the game.
"He knows what we are going to call for the most part.
"He’s got an idea of what we are going to expect of him."
Butler also addressed some minor changes that’ll be coming to the defense, in particular Bush’s role and the linebacker unit.
In 2019, Bush and Vince Williams worked with journeyman linebacker Mark Barron.
But Barron's release earlier this change shifted the group dynamics going into 2020.
Not only have the defensive pieces changed, but Butler also emphasized the importance of communication between the players on the field, something that the coach felt was lacking in 2019: “A lot of times as we went back and looked our film and kind of graded ourselves, we felt like our communication—if anything went wrong with our defenses, it was more on our communication and really our secondary communication."