This year’s training camp is quite different for Robert Mathis than last year’s. A year ago, Mathis was recovering from a torn Achilles that caused him to miss camp and preseason. This year, he’s a full go and he’s healthy as he prepares for the 2016 season.
“[I feel] a whole lot better. A whole lot better,” Mathis said today. “2013 this year, if you know what I’m saying.”
We know what Mathis is saying. In 2013, Mathis had the best year of his career as led the NFL with 19.5 sacks, setting a new Colts single-season record while doing so. In addition, he added eight forced fumbles as he was an incredibly dominant force in the area of pass rush.
That’s what Mathis was meaning, but there’s also another point to make in comparison with 2013. That year, Mathis accounted for an insanely high percentage of his team’s sacks, providing nearly half of the sack production by himself. So in other words, the Colts’ pass rush was a weakness and they were screwed if Mathis didn’t step up. See any further similarities to this year? Entering the 2016 season, the Colts’ pass rush is a weakness and they very likely will be screwed if Mathis doesn’t step up.
Mathis went on to say today what he’s said before this offseason and last year, too, that he felt better as the season went on than he did at the beginning as he worked his way back from injury. That was evident from his play on the field, as he recorded three sacks and a forced fumble in the final three games of the season, even winning the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award for week 16. He still managed seven sacks on the season, but he’ll tell you he wasn’t feeling 100% until later in the season.
This year, he’s 100% entering training camp and is thankful to be able to work with the team and his teammates instead of on a side field rehabbing. Hopefully, that translates into an even better season this year. It won’t be 2013-esque, but it could still be good. And just like in 2013, the Colts need him to be.