It’s hard to think of a player with 85.5 career sacks in 10 years coming off of a Pro Bowl season having to play for his job this year, but Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis is doing just that. For Mathis’ entire 10 year NFL career, the Colts have always ran the same old Tampa 2 base 4-3 scheme. With the Colts having one of their worst seasons in franchise history last season, the Colts got rid of the entire front office, coaching staff, and many of the greats fans grew to love.
With the new coaching staff, the Colts changed their defense to a new base 3-4 and moved Mathis from a defensive lineman to an outside linebacker. The 6-2, 245-pound defender is transitioning to a new position in his 10th season and if he can’t play that spot then he likely will be dealt for someone that can.
The Colts are in big time rebuild mode. If Peyton Manning can be released then anyone can. They’re moving forward with a new team with new schemes and if the players on the roster now can’t perform then they will be gone. It’s that simple.
So far, I think Mathis has proved his worth. He sacked Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on the first play from scrimmage on Sunday and made eight tackles during the game including another sack. With his sacks on Cutler, Mathis earned his 20th career multi-sack game and if he sacks Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder on Sunday he will have had a sack in five straight games.
The Vikings definitely are going to have to game plan for Mathis even though he’s in a new position. He’s still a very big threat in not only getting to the quarterback, but now chasing down ball carriers and making plays. What’s even scarier for opponents, Mathis leads the Colts since 2003 in forcing fumbles. Mathis has forced 39 fumbles since ‘03, and now that he has more chances at the forcing the ball out he can make even more of an impact on games.
If Mathis can keep up the same effort as he did in Week 1, I think Mathis will retire a Colt.