Robert Mathis had a season for the ages in 2013. setting franchise records and being considered for defensive player of the year. With his 19.5 sacks, he exceeded expectations of him due to the fact that he was switching to an outside linebacker from being a defensive end for many years.
It’s not an easy transitioning from a position where you have to play from a three point stance to the standing position. Dwight Freeney couldn’t find his groove in his only year as a Colt outside linebacker but Mathis thrived in that role both of his post-defensive end seasons.
So what’s next for Mathis moving forward?
Mathis simply has to make others around him better. Similar to the likes of Ray Lewis and Lawrence Taylor. He has to will the other players to be above and beyond so the Colts defense isn’t just a one trick pony. Mathis has to get a stranglehold on the leadership role for the Colts defense and be the Ray Lewis type player the team needs to play off of him.
Last season we saw only one consistent player on that defense and Mathis was that guy. Whenever Mathis was getting double teamed, the opposing quarterback would slice and dice the Colts secondary at will. Bottom tier quarterbacks such as Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kellen Clemens would not get any pressure from the Colts defense and throw at will. Once Mathis was neutralized, no other Colt on that defense rose to the occasion to assist with the pass rush on a consistent basis.
Mathis is already arguably one of the most feared pass rushers in the league but doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he plays for an average defense. If Mathis ascends to that next level and becomes the leader he needs to be, the Colts defense as well as Mathis’ play will increase in the process.