The hard-hitting safety has had his fair share of run-ins with Cincinnati. On several occasions, his big hits have knocked Bengals players out of games. He often plays on the edge of legal/illegal hits on opponents, something that is also true of Vontaze Burfict.
Before Sunday’s latest clash between the Bengals and Steelers, Marvin Lewis compared what Burfict does to how Mitchell plays the game with a similar edge.
“When you play linebacker, you’re at the tip of the sword all the time,” Lewis told Bengals.com. You’re going to be put in positions that way with the way you play the game. Linebackers, safeties — it’s an unfair thing.
“You look at Mike Mitchell on the other side. Those guys are put in positions all the time where it’s bang-bang. That doesn’t happen for an offensive guard. If it’s a 60-play game, it could be 35 times where they’re in a position that way that could be looked on as a foul or penalty.”
Well, Mitchell took offense to that statement, and he let Lewis know via Instagram:
I don’t know about his actual penalty count, but Mitchell is mistaken if he thinks that’s the only way to deem a hit illegal. Fines are actually a bigger indicator, and he’s had plenty of those during him time in Pittsburgh and in Carolina.
Mitchell’s first controversial hit against the Bengals came in Week 17 of the 2014 season, which his concussion-inducing hit on A.J. Green knocked him out of the game and the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
Mitchell then nearly did the same to Bengals receiver Marvin Jones in Week 8 of 2015, but that was a shot to the abdomen, not the head and neck area. Jones simply had the wind knocked out of him before Mitchell went over to Green and told him he was next.
Then in Week 14 of 2016, Mitchell had an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit on Tyler Eifert that left the Pro Bowl tight end concussed. Eifert would end up missing the better part of three games because of it. And, Mitchell was both flagged and fined for the incident.
All of this has led to a lot of bad blood between Mitchell and the Bengals. This actually isn’t the first time Mitchell and Burfict have been compared by the Bengals.
“There are a lot of guys that play nasty. Nobody talks about Mike Mitchell vaulting A.J. Green in our first game trying to take his helmet off on an incomplete pass,” Andrew Whitworth said back in October. “Why wasn’t he judged to be a monster? He’s got a lot of helmet-to-helmet hits.”
It seems Mitchell doesn’t see it the same way and he wants Marvin Lewis to stick to coaching the Bengals rather than talk about him.