Until now, the role of John Mitchell and the dynamic between he and Karl Dunbar was at least a little vague. Mitchell dropped his title of defensive line coach but keeping assistant head coach while Dunbar was brought on to coach the defensive line. Mike Tomlin seemed to clarify that at the Owners Meetings with Gerry Dulac tweeting out Mitchell will have no on-field role in 2018.
Mike Tomlin said John Mitchell will have no on-field coaching responsibilities. All administrative, he said.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 27, 2018
What exactly those “administrative” tasks are have yet to be completely defined. From what Tomlin has said previously, Mitchell will help current and former players with their non-football lives.
“We’re capable of doing a better job with current players, because the simpler we make their lives the more they’re going to be able to focus on football,” Tomlin told the team site last month. “John Mitchell has been a part of this community for a long time, so why would anybody on our football team buy a car, or look for a house, or try to buy insurance without stopping by John Mitchell’s office first?”.
Mitchell is the Steelers’ longest tenured coach after being hired by Bill Cowher in 1994 and coaching the defensive line ever since. Now, it clear he has no role in that regard and it will fully be Dunbar’s show, who has been busy scouting Pro Days after getting hired.
Mitchell has been regarded as one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL, well-known for his tough love approach but ability to maximize player potential. Over the last eight years, he’s been able to recreate the Steelers’ defensive line, molding Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Javon Hargrave. In the past, he’s worked with the likes of Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, and Brett Keisel.
While they’re big shoes to fill, Dunbar, as we’ve written about before, is a great coach in his own right with tons of experience and arguably a gentler approach to his players though not any less demanding.