Who knew that not having Dwight Freeney on the other side of the defense would help Robert Mathis?
Now in his 11th NFL season, Mathis is quickly becoming one of the Indianapolis Colts’ most valuable defenders. Through five games, the seasoned veteran racked up 25 total tackles, two forced fumbles and 9.5 sacks – a higher amount than he’s had in five of his 11 seasons in the league.
Considering that Mathis’ career high is 11.5 sacks in a season, there’s reason to believe the 32-year-old has finally hit his stride since taking over as the Colts’ premier pass rusher.
As of right now, Mathis is on pace to tally 30 sacks before the year is over, which would shatter the NFL single-season sack record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan back in 2001. It’s also impressive that he has managed 17 hurries on the year, earning a 9.7 overall rating on the Pro Football Focus system.
His stats and numbers are direct reflections of his just how dominant Mathis has been so far this season.
On top of notching 9.5 sacks through five games, Mathis has simply destroyed any offensive lineman that has dared get in his way. Just ask Seattle Seahawks left tackle Paul McQuistan, who was bullied by Mathis during his team’s Week 5 loss to the Colts.
Mathis hasn’t been the only pass-rush specialist turning heads this season, though. Justin Houston and Mario Williams also got out of the gates quick – 8.5 and 7.5 sacks, respectively – and are on pace to shatter Strahan’s record. While Mathis has the early lead, he’ll definitely have other hopefuls nipping at his heels as the season continues.
Considering the way Strahan “earned” the record, it would be great to see him fall from the top of the list by the end of the 2013 campaign. Mathis is off to a phenomenal start, and could steal the crown before all is said and done this season.
Even a short slump, though, could be the difference between breaking the record and pulling a Jared Allen, who fell half a sack short in 2011.