I don’t think there is anyone who can argue with the fact that Mike Mitchell is playing better this season than he did in his first year with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His overall impact on games is significantly better than at any point in 2014 and I wouldn’t have the time to hear any arguments to the contrary.
Mitchell is a fiery, excitable guy who thrives on making big hits and leaving a trail of humanity in his wake. It’s an attitude that many Steelers that came before have had. From Mean Joe Green and Jack Lambert to Greg Lloyd and Joey Porter, the attitude was simple; attack the opposition with great violence.
What is arguable when it comes to Mitchell is the way he behaves on the field usually after the play.
Search your Twitter timeline and I’m sure you’ll find comments on each end of the “Mitchell Spectrum.”
Mike Mitchell does some remarkably dumb things. Knocking ball loose and walking away from it to celebrate is way up there. I mean all-time.
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) November 8, 2015
Mike Mitchell playing like he's playing the Bengals today. Huge hits by him. Playing with some anger. #Steelers
— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) November 8, 2015
In my mind, what Mitchell does is expose loyalties and even more important he exposes generation gaps. His antics against the Bengals were awful and reeked of a “look at me” culture run amok. While his behavior wasn’t much better on Sunday, he at least has the good sense to go over and speak with the Raiders’ player he had nearly knocked out.
It wasn’t a necessary move but it was a classy move and it’s something I don’t mind. I don’t think it takes away the ability to play with great aggression or violence – it simply just illustrates that every guy out there is part of small bond and walking away healthy is the number one goal.
That’s the type of ‘Mike Mitchell’ fans don’t mind seeing. Yes, you’ll always have those fans who seek blood and guts and don’t want to see any sort of ‘goodwill’ towards an opponent but by and large we should be OK with that.
Where Mitchell rubs many of us the wrong way was illustrated perfectly in Sunday’s win over Oakland. Mitchell came up and lowered the boom on a Raiders’ ball carrier and got up celebrating as if he’d just won a Super Bowl and a Grammy for Best New Album. The problem? His antics followed a gain of almost ten yards. What on God’s green Earth is he celebrating?
Mitchell is by no means the only NFL player who celebrates in moments where 30 years ago a defensive back would have been pissed over giving up such a big play but he stands out on this team. Some of it stems from his poor play last year and some of it is just flat-out because he comes off the way he does.
I think everyone is glad he’s playing well this year but I guarantee you there is a great divide in terms of who likes his behavior and who doesn’t.