The youth of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense both makes, and breaks, the talent the unit contains. The high-energy and explosiveness provides jaw-wrenching thrills, while the inexperience causes missed opportunities.
Mike Mitchell was the safety brought in to teach the young secondary. His veteran leadership was looked upon more as this team used high draft picks to build a defensive backfield through college talent.
Before him, it was Lawrence Timmons. While Timmons’ role on the team was much more significant than Mitchell’s, there was a time when he was the teacher to a group of developing linebackers.
Now, it’s over. The defense has grown up and it’s time to invest in true veteran leadership. Not only does this team need voices to guide their youthful peers, but display the same impact on the field through their play.
While Mitchell and Timmons were once those players, they no longer contain the same skill set needed to carry on the journey in Pittsburgh. But with new veterans needed, the Steelers made all the right decisions in bringing in youthful, quality leadership.
Morgan Burnett and Jon Bostic, and even Joe Haden, knew what they were getting into when they decided to come to the Steel City. Besides the late March snow storms and downtown pierogies , the two offseason signings are headed to Western PA to be the brains behind one of the AFC’s best defenses.
Respectively known as two of the agile players in the league, the Steelers’ new safety and linebacker bring intelligence to a young defense. While still being playmakers, these two provide a security blanket to steer the rest of the defense towards smarter play.
It’s unfortunate that a player like Mitchell had to lose a job over the situation, but the NFL is a business. This team was a few moves away from a Super Bowl, so, like any team in the league, they did what needed to be done.
Impossible to deny that Burnett is an upgrade talent wise, the more important aspect is continuing to teach the younger secondary players with a better leader. Something Burnett brings ten fold compared to most safeties in this league.
For Bostic, he might not need to be as much of a guide to the linebacking core, but he does need to play intelligently. T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree are continuing to learn, and need that veteran presence.
Vince Williams and Bostic in the middle provides two voices of reason to demonstrate quality play on every down. Providing stability to two developing players on the outside and a group of depth players still getting their feet wet in the pros.
So, while losing someone like Mitchell hurts, it brings the next step in this team’s learning process. No. 23 did what he was meant to do, and for that, Steelers Nation is thankful.
Now, it’s time to take this defense to the next level. To do so, there needs to be next level veterans. Something Morgan Burnett and Jon Bostic provide.