The term “player’s coach” is probably overused at this point but part of it means a coach who can relate and communicate with his players. There may not be a better example of that in Pittsburgh than Mike Tomlin and Mike Mitchell.
Tomlin was asked about his relationship with Mitchell during Tuesday’s press conference.
“It’s a complex one,” he said. “I got a lot of complex relationships. It comes with the job. Mike is a guy that is passionate and loves football. He’s got a desire to be great.”
Mitchell is viewed as one of the leaders in the secondary, along with William Gay, especially in a year with such young and new talent infused the unit. That’s sorta always been his life though. Playing musical chairs with roster and coaches at Oakland, playing with a veteran and a rookie during his year in Carolina, and the revolving door of safeties in Pittsburgh, whether that’s been Troy Polamalu, Will Allen, Robert Golden, or Sean Davis.
Heck, even during his last year of college at Ohio, he helped bring up a first-time starter.
Mitchell has also been an adamant public supporter of Tomlin most recently defending him in Terry Bradshaw’s comments.
“Going back to something that was last week’s news with people talking about our coach being a cheerleader. It’s absurd. He’s the best football coach in the game in how he puts us in situations and prepares us. A lot of stuff isn’t even on the field. It’s about off the field. What type of man are you. What you value. Those types of things. He’s the best coach I’ve ever had; and that’s all I’m going to say about that moving forward.”
Tomlin praised Mitchell for being mentally tough, making him an easier player to coach.
“He’s strong enough mentally that he turns the stones over in terms of critiquing his game and his play. And that provides the opportunity for us to have a lot of discussions. Some about football, some about life. I appreciate the relationship as much or more as he does.”
Mitchell’s mental toughness has also helped him play through injuries, and there have been numerous ones, while still competing at a high level. This year, he’s stayed relatively healthy, his style of play always has him banged up to some degree, racking up 88 tackles and intercepting one pass in 16 starts.
He’s now started all 48 games of his Pittsburgh career.