The Pittsburgh Steelers signed safety Mike Mitchell to a five-year, $25 million dollar contract on March 11, 2014. While many fans hoped that the former second-round pick would provide solid defensive coverage after the loss of Ryan Clark, this was not the case in his first year with the organization.
Mitchell had an injury plagued 2014 campaign but never used it as an excuse. He continued to battle his groin injury that he never told anyone about until the season was complete.
Today we will take a look at some plays where Mitchell struggled and a technique that defined his 2014 season.
Simple awareness struggles
Mitchell's 2014 season included taking poor angles, drawing penalties, and missing wide open tackles. In the AFC Wild Card matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, not only did Mitchell struggle greatly, some could argue that his awareness around receivers was a significant factor in Pittsburgh's loss.
As quarterback Joe Flacco was under extreme pressure, wide receiver Torrey Smith moved around until Flacco rolled out; he then threw a wide open touchdown in the back left corner of the end zone. This play would have been avoided if Mitchell had known Smith went past him and was moving around to try and get open.
As an NFL safety you should be aware of your surroundings to give you a better opportunity to defend passes. This season he improved on this issue but if the Steelers had the 2015 edition of Mitchell, than we could have been looking at another playoff victory against the Ravens.
Bad tackling in the secondary
When the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Cincinnati Bengals the first priority is to cover AJ Green the best you can. While Green is a top wide receiver in the NFL, giving him the necessary room to run past your safeties is never a good idea.
Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor was getting to the point in his career where he was no longer producing on the defense. Taylor has always covered Green quite well, but this time was different. He was beat at the line of scrimmage and Green used his quick speed against him.
Safety Mike Mitchell was playing deep in the middle of the field and was watching William Gay's man. Let me remind you that when you play the Bengals you know quarterback Andy Dalton will test the horrific secondary with an AJ Green pass. He should have used common sense and after Taylor got beat off the line, Mitchell could have helped prevent this touchdown. The worst part of this play is how terrible the attempted tackle of Green was.
Technique that defined his 2014 season
Mike Mitchell is your typical hard-hitting safety. Despite not logging an interception in 2014, he forced 2 fumbles which came at opportune moments for Pittsburgh.
Against the Houston Texans in a week 7 matchup, Mitchell stripped wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has been a top receiver in the NFL.
It sure seems like Hopkins has sure ball security, but the amount of force Mitchell provides to strip the receiver is truly outstanding. Let it be known that the Pro-Bowl receiver only has lost two career fumbles.
Before the 2015 season Mitchell has forced 3 fumbles, but since then he added to the list for a grand total of 7 career fumbles. It just seems like each and every year he finds a way to get the football which is why I believe this is a great technique of his.
Major Improvement in 2015
In the next installment of Steelers Film Room, we will be showcasing the positive attributes of Mitchell in his second year with Pittsburgh. He truly shone out and proved to fans that getting comfortable in the system along with being healthy shows growth and determination. Mitchell's 2015 season was truly impressive.