Steelers vs Giants Film Review: Mike Mitchell

Unfortunately for new Pittsburgh Steelers starting safety Mike Mitchell, the grand takeaway of his debut with his new team was no doubt the poor angle that he took on New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings’s 73-yard touchdown run right up the middle of the defense this past Saturday in the team’s preseason opener.

Mitchell spent so much time as the single high safety, in fact, that he often wasn’t even on the screen, making it difficult to give a more complete evaluation.

Other than him coming up on the second play of the game to blow up a wide receiver on a running play, and one casual blitz on a play that was called back due to penalty, the free agent pickup spent the vast majority of his time out of sight of the television camera’s lenses.

But one thing that was evident, outside of the one poor angle, is Mitchell’s eagerness and willingness to hit, which we saw on a few occasions last week.

On this third and 15 play for the Giants late in the first quarter, for example, you can see Mitchell coming up late to try to lay a shoulder into the running back. Even though he doesn’t quite fully connect, nor actually register an assisted tackle on the play, the intent is apparent with him coming in from 15 to 20 yards off the ball to get into the game.

Mitchell’s most impressive play of the game, however, didn’t end up showing on the stats sheet because it was ultimately called back due to a holding penalty on the Giants’ left guard. But this is the preseason, and we’re evaluating performance, not statistics.

On the Giants’ first play to begin the second quarter, they were facing a second and 18 situation following a holding penalty on the previous play. New York ran a draw to running back Andre Williams, and the offensive line blocked it well, with the exception of the hold on Cameron Heyward that helped free the back.

Mitchell, once again 20 yards off the ball as the single high safety, was the last line of defense on this play. Only William Gay perhaps had a chance of making a play on the running back. Mitchell was caught in open space and had to line himself up to absorb the back. He mirrored Williams’ sharp cut to his left with agility and just got a hand on the back’s leg to trip him up. Not a form tackle by any means, but a strong play in the open field, and a good sign, I think.

A couple plays later, after yet another penalty, Mitchel was having none of it, as he followed the play from the back end and chased Williams to the sideline, where he popped the back in a head-to-head collision that sent his own helmet spinning into the air. The last two plays certainly demonstrated better angles than before.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Jacque Strappe

    Mitchell will look much better with a healthy Troy alongside him.

  • steeltown

    That long run was concerning. Hopefully they make the necessary adjustments, from what I hear Heyward was pretty mad at himself, Timmons also. I thought overall Mitchell had a good first showing. Lets not forget this was his first action in a Steeler uniform and he missed some time in camp as well.

  • Paddy

    Evaluating players in preseason games is pointless

  • Virdin Barzey

    What I love about these replays is you can see not only the player in question but others as well. Mitchell was hard to see except for the first gif where he looked like a rookie but to be fair Allen was equally terrible if not worst on that play. Missed Pola.

    Other things to look at from these gifs was the d-line got pushed around good by the Giants o-line. When they can put lineman on linebackers, the d-line isn’t working….just on these plays. It was a concern I had last year. Clearly you can see than no game planning was done because the defense look slow to react on plays.

    I’m going on record to say that priority #1 for this defense had better figure out how to EFFECTIVELY stop the run. That was our staple for years in being the top defense. No overreaction since its 1st preseason game but still concerning.

  • cencalsteeler

    I think he gets a pass on that long run due to exactly what you say in your last sentence. That run happened early, which would be more concerning if it happened later in the game.

  • srdan

    That sentence makes no sense. It’s the main reason we have a preseason, no?

  • cencalsteeler

    One positive is seeing Mitchell coming up for run support. He recognizes it’s a run and immediately reverses direction and comes to help. That, we did not get from Clark last year. Mitchell wants to participate in hitting, while Clark seemed to hope someone would get there before him.

  • srdan

    A young defense misses assignments, its just the way it is. I would expect a lot of it this year as well with potentially two rookies starting. Which is 3 new starters including Mitchell.

    In simple terms, trade Aaron for Tuitt, Farrior for Shazier, Clark for Mitchell. The former players had a lot of expereience and rarely missed assignments. When they got old they coudlnt get to theri assignments.

  • Ken

    The thing that bothered me was not the missed assignment as much as the recovery speed by anyone. I didn’t know Jennings was known to be a burner. they could not even get closer to him in 70 yards.

  • steeltown

    Yea he definitely isn’t a burner. The main issue was the angles that everyone took, and C.Allen was a full 5-7yds behind him before he changed direction. In the end though, poor angle by Mitchell and of course W.Allen has to make that tackle

  • Asmitty56

    Well first off the formation wasn’t the best to play the run, Spence slid down to the edge leaving Timmons in the middle by himself, along with only two defensive linemen, that was simply a great audible by Eli. It’s been discussed over and over that Timmons was held, that might not matter because possibly the linemen simply pushes Timmons out of the way. Heyward has also said that he missed his assignment and hit the wrong gap, that’s a fixable mistake. Then of course there were the two bad angles by the safeties. All of this seems fixable.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I’m gonna go with Tomlin’s take on the long run and that is Will Allen or Mitchell has to make that tackle period. Although there were a few holds Allen had an opportunity to come up and make the tackle and he missed. I know Heyward was hard on himself about the play but the safeties have to make the tackle. We’ve been hard on Ryan Clark about his declining coverage skills (rightfully so) but he was a sure tackler back there.

  • Josh Knepshield

    That is the entire point of the preseason dude.

  • SteelerMike

    Indeed, it was very disappointing to see the lack of recovery speed across the defense.

  • Paddy

    Mitchell was signed already, they know what he can do

  • Paddy

    Dude? really? get outa here

  • charles

    You are mistaking Clark before Goodell and Clark after Goodell made an example out of the Steelers defense. Folks should remember that Mitchell profited greatly off an excellent front 7 at Carolina. After the first game, and it is only one game, Mitchell’s play is not good. Angles are not a coachable correction.

  • No

  • They know his potential, not how he fits in our defense. There are a large number of FAs over the years that were signed by teams that “knew what he can do” that completely flopped because they didn’t fit into their new schemes.

    I kind of hope you are trolling with these replies, rather than serious.

  • cencalsteeler

    I respectfully disagree. Mitchell was in on 4 tackles in the short amount of time played. I give him a pass for his bad angle on the td run. It was his first game w a new team and he missed practice due to injury. Plus, it was the beginning of the second series. If it was later in the game, I’d have concern, but give him a break. Also, I disagree about angles not being a coachable correction. That’s a coach’s job. That’s X’s and O’s. To put the player in the best position possible to make a play. That is almost every drill a db participates in is to back peddle, make their break, and then angle to the ball. And lastly, no mistaking, I clearly stated “we did not get that from Clark last year”.

  • Josh Knepshield

    Ok. I’ll get “outa here” when you admit that your comment was retarded in every way.

  • charles

    The point about Clark was that Goodell took his best weapon away, that is hitting like a torpedo and the intimidation that came with it. The Steelers D scares noone anymore.
    You are right that coach puts player in a position to make the play, but, respectfully as well, he can’t give him the angle to run the guy down. That Giant is no speed demon.
    Finally, rhetorically speaking, why would Harbaugh not draft his own cornerback from Stanford given the chance? Because Richard Sherman is no good without front four being intimidating, Mitchell profited last year the same way.

  • cencalsteeler

    Goodell may have played a part, but I personally blame his concussions and age. Ever since he changed to that extra padded helmet, his play deteriorated, causing him to play with caution.
    Mitchell, no doubt, had a lot of help from his front helping bolster his stats/play with Carolina. Bottom line is Mitchell is an upgrade over Clark in the current now. I think it’s premature to say he’s no good after playing a few series of a week 1 preseason game.

  • charles

    Current upgrade , yea, and it would be great for him to be an intimidator on D