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Robert Mathis ranked as best outside pass rusher in football

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Earlier this week, Joe Baker posed the question, Does the Jerry Hughes pick put an expiration date on Robert Mathis' Colts career? Today, we link to a Pro Football Focus article from June 30th which breaks down Robert Mathis' ability to cause absolute and complete destruction of the opposing team's quarterback.

No pass rusher got more pressure around the outside than Mathis in 2009. He recorded 42 total pressures (9 sacks, 7 hits, 26 pressures) from the outside last season, six ahead of second-place Trent Cole (6 sacks, 12 hits, 18 pressures) and 14 clear of Freeney (7 sacks, 5 hits, 16 pressures). Mathis was also well clear of the field in terms of his pressure per snap, beating a blocker outside to record pressure once every 9.74 pass rushes, more frequent than the likes of Freeney (once every 14.04 pass rushes) and Cole (once every 15.14 pass rushes).

PFF did a similar article on Freeney, where their analysis indicated that Dwight was the best all-around pass rusher in the NFL, whether from rushing from the outside, spinning inside, bull-rushing, you name it. Dwight just gets to the QB, and he's about as unblockable as anyone who has ever played this game.

With Mathis, his value is speed rushing from the outside, especially in the all-important third down situations.

On top of his edge rushing, Mathis brought the heat on third downs. Only six players picked up more pressure in this situation, including partner in crime Freeney. Considering Mathis' lowered snap count (largely from sitting out games late in the season), his performance on third down is all the more impressive. Mathis’ six sacks on third down were bettered only by Elvis Dumervil (11), Freeney, Cole and Brian Orakpo (7 sacks each).

Mathis weakness? Inside pressure.

Mathis got 72.41 percent of his pressure outside and 24.14 percent inside, a difference of close to 50 percent.

PFF refers to Robert a bit of a one-trick pony, but then attempts to make it sounds as if that is not necessarily a bad thing. Mathis' "one trick" is very effective. It will be interesting to see if the addition of rookie Jerry Hughes to the mix will help Mathis improve his interior pass rushing numbers in 2010.