Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Mitchell Leaving No Room For Excuses


Dec 22, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers free safety Mike Mitchell (21) points to the crowd after knocking away a pass during the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Moving from one team to another can be a difficult transition in the NFL.  Moving from one team to another as the expected starter in that position has its own levels of difficulty.  Moving from one team to another as the expected starter in that position in Pittsburgh Steelers Dick LeBeau’s defense…. well… that might just be a fairly bumpy road for a season.

We’ve been hit more times in the head than Wile E. Coyote with an ACME anvil that Dick LeBeau’s defense is one of the most complicated schemes out there.  And while the mystique has lots some of its… well… mystique… over the latest pairings of 8-8 seasons, fundamentally the DLB defense is hard to grasp.  That’s usually been the excuse regurgitated over and over to Steeler Nation as to why rookies rarely ever start outright for a DLB defense.  But, in the cases of veterans, the hope and expectation is that at least they aren’t trying to adjust to the speed and intensity of the NFL – just learn the new defense.

September 16, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau looks on from the sidelines against the New York Jets during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been done before and with success, so it’s not like it’s an impossible feet.  But, rarely does a player absolve themselves from the excuse that the DLB one is hard to learn – and therefore less of an excuse when they screw up.  During the Trib’s Mark Kaboly’s mini-camp wrap up, he quotes newly acquired safety Mike Mitchell on learning the new D:

"I don’t think it has been hard at all.  Coach LeBeau and Coach Lake are both great teachers with what they are asking us to do here. … I don’t want to say easy, but they have made it easier on me to pick up the playbook. They are asking things that you just have to know and remember that is different from other defenses that I played in… It’s not like this defense is rocket science."

Ok, so he’s not coming right out and absolving himself of any kind of learning curve that might cause an ‘oopsie’ later on.  But, I hope his mouth can fit a size 11 shoe if he ever says in a post game locker room interview that he’s still trying to learn the defense or that it’s a difficult one to grasp.

Mitchell is kind of leaving it on the table that it’s all about skill and his ability to execute.  Gee, as it should be for any player.  I’m actually relieved to hear a statement like this coming from a newly acquired player.  Quite frankly, the DLB complicated scheme is worn as an excuse or factor for any player on defense.  I hope Mitchell can strap up and take it to an offense time and again this season.  We’ll see if he’s been able to snatch the pebble from the Master’s hand.

After all, it’s not like it’s rocket science.