On Thursday February 24, Stephen Holder of The Athletic reported that former Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell is joining Frank Reich’s staff as assistant secondary coach.
Mitchell, 34, entered the NFL in 2009 as a second-round pick of the Raiders (No. 47 overall). The Kentucky native went on to play in the league for ten seasons, concluding his playing career by spending part of the 2018 season with the Colts.
He didn’t sign with Indianapolis until October 9, 2018, after the Colts started 1-4. But Indy went 9-2 over the course of the remainder of the regular season and went on to beat Houston in a Wild Card game. Yet Mitchell suffered a calf injury in that contest and was placed on injured reserve prior to Indy’s second playoff game. The Colts went on to lose to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round, 31-13.
Mitchell’s NFL Career Started Slowly
Notably, Mike Mitchell made only nine starts during the four years he played for the Raiders. Then, after one year and 14 starts with the Carolina Panthers in 2013, he signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Steelers and became entrenched as Pittsburgh’s free safety, making 61 starts over the course of four seasons (2014-17).
As such, it’s not surprising that most of Mitchell’s career production came with the Steelers, where he had 281 total tackles (201 solo), along with four interceptions, 23 passes defensed and four fumble recoveries.
According to Pro Football Reference, he retired with 514 career tackles, 11 interceptions, 42 passes defensed, nine forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and 7.5 sacks.
Prior to being drafted into the NFL, Mitchell played four seasons for the MAC’s Ohio Bobcats. Over the course of 46 college games, he recorded 213 tackles, including 14.5 tackles for loss, seven interceptions and three sacks.
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The Colts Finished 19th in Pass Defense Last Season
Mike Mitchell will be charged with helping to try to improve a Colts secondary that finished 19th in the NFL in pass defense in 2021, having allowed 3,980 yards and a completion percentage of 65.3%, per NFL.com. It was a unit that that allowed 32 touchdown passes, second-worst in the league, just ahead of the Washington Commanders. But Indy’s defense also recorded 19 interceptions, tied for the third-most INTs in the NFL behind the New England Patriots (23) and league-leading Dallas Cowboys (26).
Mitchell will be working under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and alongside secondary coach Ron Milus. He’ll bring his leadership and knowledge to a room that includes safeties Julian Blackmon and Khari Willis, as well as young cornerbacks Rock Ya-Sin, Isaiah Rodgers and Kenny Moore, the latter of whom made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season.
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