The Colts' pass rush has been a major red flag in recent years, and that could lead to the area seeing quite a bit of change this offseason. One thing that will remain the same, however, seems to be the fact that the franchise's all-time sack leader will be a factor.
New defensive coordinator Ted Monachino has made it clear that he will very much focus on the pass rush, calling it "priority No. 1" in a conversation with Colts.com earlier this year and adding that "there are a lot of different ways you can look at pass coverage but the way I look at it - the best pass defense is a good pass rush." That is music to the ears of Colts fans who have seen the team's struggles in that area, and Monachino seems ready to work with Robert Mathis to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
"Robert Mathis is going to be a huge part of (the pass rush)," Monachino told Colts.com's Kevin Bowen recently. "(He) always has been and always will be. We will make sure that we continue to grow him and develop him that maybe he can finish his career at the peak of his career. That would be a great thing."
Mathis also told Bowen that he feels close to 100% and is excited for an offseason with no scheduled surgeries so that he can focus on getting better for next season.
During his 13-year career with the Colts, Mathis has recorded 118 sacks and 49 forced fumbles, proving to be a very disruptive pass rusher. That was never more evident than in the 2013 season, when Mathis racked up a franchise-record and league-leading 19.5 sacks. The following season, however, Mathis missed the entire year with a torn Achilles, and that led to him slowly returning to the lineup in 2015. Mathis sat out of the first game and was brought along slowly for several weeks after that, but he ended up tied for the team lead with seven sacks and added 20 tackles and a forced fumble.
Though Mathis will be 35-years old and will have a $5 million cap number in 2016, he still figures to factor into the mix as a pass rusher. After all, he's been their only reliable option for the past few years, and the signing of Trent Cole or the drafting of Bjoern Werner and Jonathan Newsome has done nothing to change that. Rather, it has been the unheralded guys complementing Mathis in the area - guys like Kendall Langford, Erik Walden, and others. Moving forward, the pass rush absolutely figures to be a major area of emphasis for the Colts, as they need to be able to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Regardless of whatever moves the Colts do end up making, however, it sounds like Robert Mathis will continue to be very much in the picture when it comes to the position in 2016.