Steelers Teammates Waiting To See Mike Mitchell Hit

By all accounts thus far, new Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell appears to be everything the team thought he would be through two blocks of OTAs, which is a good thing considering he was their prized free agent acquisition on whom they are counting to be an opening day starter.

Mitchell is a workout warrior off the field, and adds new life on the field that the Steelers were lacking recently from the position.

Earlier this week, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review observed that “Mike Mitchell instantly makes the Steelers defense better”, noting that “comparing the closing speed of Mitchell and Ryan Clark last year is night and day”.

Ryan Clark, of course, is the man that Mitchell is replacing. The free safety, now in his mid-30s, saw a steady decline during his 2013 campaign, and often exacerbated issues for his cornerbacks to make them look worse than they played. With his contract up, the Steelers wanted to get younger and faster next to Troy Polamalu.

But Polamalu isn’t at OTAs yet, so Mitchell is not yet next to him. As of now, he has been lining up across from Will Allen, who has spent the majority of the past four seasons with the Steelers and has received significant playing time on defense at both free, strong, and dime safety over the past two.

Allen, the veteran, is among those who like what they’ve seen from the newcomer so far. Of Mitchell he said recently, through a Mike Prisuta article:

“I love his attitude. I love playing with him. I love learning with him. He’s a great guy and we have a lot of fun back there. I’m sure Troy is going to love playing with him, as well”.

But he’s not ready to give his final evaluation on Mitchell just yet. No, as with all newcomers, whether rookies or veterans, you need to see them hit first.

When I first came here the question was am I going to hit? When I came here from Tampa, Ryan Clark, Troy, Ike Taylor, Will Gay, James Farrior, James Harrison, all those guys challenged me, am I going to come up and hit somebody? If I wasn’t going to hit anybody then you can’t play on the Steeler defense.

Getting the ball, we need that. But I want him to be an enforcer, as well. That’s how we play the game. We play the game mean, it’s a violent game. It’s the Steeler way and that’s how we have to play every game.

We won’t know that until we get on the pads.

As Allen reflects, the Steelers defense “won Super Bowls before I came here and built a strong legacy on smashing people in the mouth”, which all newcomers must respect. He drank the Kool-Aid and absorbed that message when he first came here, as all who are successful in Pittsburgh have.

There’s no way that you’re not going to get that message and drink that Kool-Aid. Mike has to drink the same Kool-Aid. That’s just what it is; call it an initiation if you will. But it’s just the Steeler way.

Every new guy; it doesn’t matter, nobody gets a pass from that. Even (new defensive assistant) Joey Porter, he lived that, he held that title playing that smashmouth, hard-nosed football, tough-man football. Those guys set the precedent for us and we have to keep adding on to it, keep winning Super Bowls, keep playing physical defense and keep playing violently within the realms of the rules.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Jim McCarley

    Not a moment too soon….thanks Clark, but see ya”…….I can’t wait to watch the defense now that the speed is coming…….last two seasons it was like watching paint dry….GO STEELERS!!

  • 20Stoney

    Troy needs to be there.


    Now I see why we have kept Will Allen.

  • John C

    Mitchell hitting is not going to be an issue!!

  • Eric MacLaurin

    As long as the goal is getting the ball instead of hitting I’m good. There are better ways to separate a player from a ball than hitting and I don’t care which way they go as long as they get results.

  • ApexSteel

    He needs to go to the Kam Chancellor school of hitting then. It helps you avoid fines.

  • cencalsteeler

    I can not wait till the Steelers get back to being the bullies on the block. It was actually pretty sad for me the last few years watching them get away from what they have been known for. Bring the pain, boys…..bring the pain!!!

  • RedCarpetDefense

    If that is the Steelers way, what the heck happened these past couple of years? Seems some did not get the memo. Here’s hoping this team makes rapid and deliberate exodus back to the Steeler way.

  • steelster

    Mitchell may help them win 2 more games this year. Which is the difference between making and not making the playoffs. His signing was huge.

  • TBone

    For years … the Steelers bread and butter where turnover takeaways. You just knew that at least once during every game that defense was going to either score or set up Ben in the red zone.

    That factor was totally non existent last year … and it hurt …

  • shawn

    My initial reaction was they overpaid for a player that only performed one year … but there is no doubt that he is a vast upgrade to Clark who has been on the downhill of his accomplished career for the last few seasons …. here is hoping that Mitchell turns out to be as good a signing as Clark was and will be the playmaker that we need back there in the secondary !

  • steelster

    I think he really helps Ike taylor.

  • Delroy Ross Jr.

    im not worried about the hitting when dealing with mike Mitchell because I know he will do that. we need to create turnovers with the new speed that has been acquired

  • Zach

    no doubt! Ike will *really* have safety help over the top this year.

  • Brendon Glad

    Smashing people in the mouth is a thing of the past…I want to see him go attack a football in the air, catch it, and make it look like he’s done it before. Then we will know the back–end is going to improve. Not dissing Clark, the game just has different rules…so “smash-in-mouth” safeties don’t excite me much now.