There aren’t many fond memories of Mike Mitchell as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I recall a really nice hit he made against Marvin Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals a few years back, but other than that, the majority of memories all swirl around him running his mouth, missing tackles and being out of position.
Not all of these mishaps were solely on Mitchell’s shoulders, but with him gone, plus a few others, the Steelers' coaching staff has made it a point to let the public know tackling will be emphasized this year.
If that's truly the case, one player might not need as much work as the rest. That would be none other than free-agent acquisition Morgan Burnett. According to ProFootballFocus (PFF), Burnett was the best in the business at doing just that.
Burnett loves to play inside the box, and his skill set will be a welcome addition to the Steelers’ defense. Last year, both Sean Davis and Mike Mitchell missed their fair share of tackles, and neither of them ever was the type of player who, when approaching a ball carrier, you had confidence they'd be bringing him to the ground.
What Burnett brings is something completely different. He's versatile enough to play either Free or Strong Safety, can play in the box, can cover and what he loves doing the most just might be tackling.
A defense doesn’t want to see their safeties piling up tackles, because that likely means the front seven of the defense didn’t do their jobs. But with the Steelers playing heavy sub package football nowadays, Burnett will often find himself standing where linebackers normally do, and a large reason why is his ability to tackle the ball carrier.
If the Steelers’ main interest this offseason was to improve tackling, by adding Burnett and releasing Mitchell they've already improved tremendously.