Earlier today, the NFL named Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for the second time this season. Mathis won the award in October too, despite the bye week, which at times has seemed like the only thing that could stop him from affecting the outcome of games.
Robert Mathis’s December: 19 tackles, 5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 8 QB hurries (QB hurries stat courtesy of PFF). That’s impressive work, even for a known one man wrecking crew.
According to the Colts’ press release, the last time an Indianapolis player won more than one player of the month award in a single season, it was 2003, and not the player you would expect (unless you remembered it was Mike Vanderjagt in the midst of his perfect 37 for 37 season).
In short, being awarded Player of the Month more than once in a season is relatively rare, even for a team that had the greatest quarterback of all time from 1998-2010.
Robert Mathis has had a rare kind of season, though, one that merits serious consideration for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Mathis has been an absolute warrior for the Colts this year, and no player aside from Andrew Luck is more essential to this team’s success.
He has some tough competition though. Panthers LB Luke Keuchly has 156 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 7 passes defensed. Seattle super CB Earl Thomas finished the season with 105 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 5 interceptions, and 8 passes defensed, and, of course, Rams’ DE Robert Quinn, a pass rusher like Mathis, racked up 57 tackles, 19 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and a pass deflection in 2013.
Mathis’s stats according to the Colts: 65 tackles (59 by ESPN’s count – close enough), 19.5 sacks, 8 forced fumbles (No NFL player has ever forced more sack-fumbles in a career than Mathis’s 43), and a pass deflection.
If the race for DPoY comes down to the two elite pass rushers on that list, Mathis certainly has an edge over Quinn, who aside from losing the statistical battle by a slim margin, plays for a 7-9 team. Thomas and Keuchly, who each stuffed the stat sheet for a division champion this season, are a different story, but Mathis deserves to be in the conversation. He is a true game changer for a playoff team that wouldn’t be where they are without him.
The best thing about Robert Mathis though, besides nearly everything he brings to the Indianapolis Colts, is that while he would be honored to win Defensive Player of the Year, the only thing that matters to him right now is beating the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday.