With the extra day, a brief peek at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ future. If you’ve been on this site, you know I’m generally a defender of Mike Mitchell. Like Ike Taylor or William Gay, they were the whipping boys of the fan base. The reasons slightly differ but generally come down to a lack of playmaking or splash plays. Gay isn’t a physically gifted corner, Taylor had hands made out of Isaly’s Chipped Ham and Mitchell’s game never translated to gaudy numbers.
But today, I suppose that faction of the fanbase and I are coming to some sort of agreement. Free safety is a position the Steelers gotta look at in the offseason.
Don’t get me wrong. Mitchell, and I assume this is where I and the rest of the fanbase go our separate ways, is still is a talented player. He’s not done, washed up, fin. Not yet.
His playing style, however, doesn’t lend itself to a career where he’s playing until 35. Durability has been a hallmark of his time in Pittsburgh. It wasn’t until this year that he missed a Steelers’ game but in 2017, the injury luck has run out. Missing most of training camp with a hamstring injury, he’s dealt with several (or recurring) ankle injuries, a bum Achilles, and maybe a calf injury, depending on if you believe some of the reports out there.
Years of being the sacrificial lamb in the secondary, blasting receivers over the middle and playing with a fearless, violent attitude may have finally caught up to him. It was inevitable. Your body can only go through so many years of abuse and even when he looked healthy in the box score, offseason surgeries have become his norm. It’s hard to think that trend gets reversed and he becomes the beacon of health and stability. Father Time simply doesn’t lose.
And sure, it would be nice to get a major playmaker at safety. Sean Davis is starting to come into his own but doesn’t look like he’s going to be that guy – he’s created only three turnovers in 20 starts. It might be counter to the Steelers’ scheme but a big-play free safety would be nice to see. There isn’t anyone on the current roster who fits that bill.
It’s not me trying to push Mitchell out the door. If he can get himself healthy, he’s a crucial part of the Steelers’ 2017 Super Bowl run. Like we’ve stressed before, what he brings as a communicator alone is huge. But eventually, the Steelers were going to have to find his replacement. Better to be proactive than wait around.