As we’ve noted multiple times this offseason, the Indianapolis Colts have had another guy around the building as an unofficial part of the coaching staff: Robert Mathis.
The team’s all-time leader in sacks retired following the 2016 season, but he hasn’t been able to get away from football altogether. Instead, he’s volunteered his time coaching the Colts’ pass rushers, and it’s something that the rest of the Colts coaches have appreciated.
“ I think that with Rob, first of all, he’s such a solid, solid man, and that’s a great example for them to follow,” defensive coordinator Ted Monachino said last week. “They see a guy that works as hard as he works now in the role that he’s in, and it makes them want to work for him which is huge. From a football standpoint, that knowledge can be applied to different guys. He’s got a really good feel for what skills he can teach each guy. Some guys can’t be Rob Mathis. We all know that, right? Rob was – we were talking about exceptions and rules – Rob was the exception. The undersized pass rusher that has had a long, long career and was very successful and productive. So there are some of those things that an undersized pass rusher can do that a 265-pound Jabaal Sheard can’t. But he is using the things that he can with each guy. It’s been a lot of fun having him around, and I think he enjoys coaching. We’ll keep him around as long as he’ll stay.”
Monachino is exactly right in saying that Mathis was the exception, because he was an undersized and underrated player, taken in the fifth round out of Alabama A&M, who went on to record 123 sacks and 52 forced fumbles during a 13-year career. None of that is normal, and there are also differences in Mathis’ play (as an undersized pass rusher) that won’t translate to every player. So the coaching method can’t just be, “do what Mathis did,” as it’s got to be something more that will help each player. But there are plenty of things that Mathis can pass on to these players about getting after the quarterback - and certainly about hard work and dedication!
Mathis has said that he doesn’t want to get into coaching but has also said that he wants to help teach and instruct the next generation of pass rushers. It’s unclear what exactly his long-term role will be, but it seems his opportunity with the Colts now affords him that chance. He’s not a full-time or official coach, but he’s around with the franchise he played with for 14 years and teaching their pass rushers. The Colts are thankful for him volunteering their time, and they’ll keep him around however long he wants to keep doing it. So it will be interesting to see if Mathis keeps coaching these players in training camp and into the season.