Obscure Spotlight: Scott Mitchell

scottmitchellWas Scott Mitchell ever good? The numbers might suggest that yes, Mitchell indeed had a good 1995 season. That year for the Lions, he threw for 4338 yards, while completing nearly 60 percent of his passes. His 32 touchdowns to 12 interceptions is also a solid ratio. But if you talk to Lions fans, they tell a story different from the numbers.

But let’s start where Mitchell’s real NFL story starts. After Dan Marino went down in 1993, Mitchell stepped in at quarterback for the Phins, who picked Mitchell in the fourth round of the 1990 Draft. Mitchell started seven games in Marino’s absence, leading Miami to a 3-4 record. Mitchell split time with obscure great Steve DeBerg, but neither Mitchell nor DeBerg could prevent the Dolphins from stumbling down the stretch to a 9-7 record, after a 9-2 start.

The Lions, however, saw opportunity in Mitchell, who became a free agent that offseason. They went hard after the quarterback, and signed Scott Mitchell to a four-year, $21 million contract.

Right out of the chute, Mitchell struggled as the Lions’ starter. He went 4-5 in his first nine games, and completed less than half of his passes, for 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. After a disastrous showing in the first half of week 10 against the Packers, in which he went 5-15 for 63 yards and two picks, he was replaced by backup Dave Krieg. Krieg led the Lions to a 5-2 record in the final seven games of the year, and the Lions made the playoffs.

Back to 1995. Mitchell rebounded nicely, and was among the best quarterbacks in the NFL during the regular season. Once again, the Lions made the playoffs, this time with Mitchell at the helm.

Scott Mitchell was an unmitigated disaster in the postseason. In the Wild Card game against Philadelphia that year, he completed just 13 out of 29 passes for 155 yards and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Detroit lost the game 58-37, and Mitchell was replaced in the second half by Don Majkowski.

Mitchell was never able to recapture the magic of 1995. He led the Lions to the playoffs once more in 1996, but once again Detroit was unable to get past the Wild Card round. He later played for the Ravens and Bengals, mostly as a backup. Mitchell was most recently a member of the Bengals in 2001. He retired after that season, and is currently a software entrepreneur.

Also Lomas Brown is a schmuck and ESPN blows. Both go without saying.

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