Replacing A Championship Roster – Mike Mitchell The Next Ryan Clark?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have experienced an uncommon amount of roster turnover over the last few seasons, which just so happened to coincide with consecutive years without a postseason berth.

As a result, we’re finding an unusual amount of new faces in the starting lineup compared just to last season, when the season before already introduced several new starters.

The rapid turnover in successive seasons certainly has much to do with the organization’s personnel management over the previous years. Time, as always, came out the victor as they felt the ramifications of trying to hold together a championship roster that could no longer perform like one.

Considering  how different the projected starting lineup for the start of the 2014 season is from just two seasons ago, I think it would be interesting to revisit the roster from the 2010 season—the last time the Steelers competed for a championship—to see how different this new team truly is.

Ryan Clark helped the Steelers get back to and win the Super Bowl in 2008 after safety Chris Hope cashed in on his own successful Super Bowl run with the Steelers in 2005. Clark helped get them to another one in 2010.

But he was also a big part of the Steelers’ defense dovetailing last season to a middling unit after a nearly unbroken string of dominant performance across the past decade, and that’s why he’s now in a Washington Redskins uniform.

The Steelers are hoping that they’ve found their next Ryan Clark—the Ryan Clark of a few years ago, of course—in their biggest free agent signing in years, free safety Mike Mitchell.

Mitchell has seamlessly entered the starting lineup with the first snap of the offseason, even if his running mate, Troy Polamalu, has yet to show up.

The Steelers will be depending upon him to provide seamless defense at the back end the way Clark once did in order to help plug the holes that lead to big plays through the air in what has become a leaky vessel last season.

Clark was never the fastest free safety, nor did he have the innate ability of an Ed Reed to read the angles and know where the ball would be if a pass or catch wasn’t executed perfectly.

But he understood the game, and he was a football player. It’s no surprise that he became a leader on what was indeed a championship defense.

Mitchell may perhaps be more physically gifted than Clark, with greater size, speed, and strength, but he will have to prove that he has the makeup of a champion if the Steelers mean to return to the Super Bowl in the very near future.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Paddy

    I think Mitchell will eventually replace Troy43

  • Superdriller316

    Mitchell’s possible number change… Yesterday’s video of practice at Heinz field on the Steelers site showed Mitchell and Golden both with 21 on the back of their helmets. Even though Mitchell wears 23 jersey, I don’t think that matters much. H. Jones is wearing 34 on D.

  • Steelers12328882

    Thomas Everett, Darren Perry, Travis Davis, Brent Alexander, Chris Hope and Ryan Clark. These are the Free Safeties I remember most, and although there’s a few real good ones I can never remember any of them being as fast as Mike Mitchell is, although Everett was fast too. I’ve always felt like we’ve had 2 Strong Safeties on the field, so I’m really excited to finally see a guy that can run sideline to sideline.

  • Madi

    I know you’re talking about FS and these guys are SS, but Carnell Lake and Troy Polamalu were/are very fast. So there has still been speed at safety.

  • Steelers12328882

    Yup, no doubt, but for the most part Mitchell has a different skill set than the other Free Safeties we’ve used in the past, especially Hope and Clark.

  • Hp B

    Donny Shell too!

  • Hp B

    Ryan Clark was a great Steeler! His tough as nails play won games for them.