TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin was asked if he has any instructions for his offensive lineman as they prepare for Robert Mathis.
“Yeah, keep him away from the quarterback,” he said. “One thing about Robert, he’s like the Energizer Bunny: He never stops. That guy goes constantly every play, and when he gets tired, he goes out and then he comes back even stronger. We’ve got to do a great job on him.”
The 32-year-old Mathis leads the NFL with 13.5 sacks, and he’s failed to register a QB takedown in just three of his team’s 10 games this season.
Long regarded as one of the game’s premier pass rushers with a devastating spin move, Mathis appears to have taken things to a new level this season.
“He’s not the perfect size, perfect speed or anything like that, but he’s relentless,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “We can’t have two people on him all the time because he moves around.”
Arians added that the way the Colts use Mathis prevents a team from being able to just take him out of the game with a double team, though there will certainly be times where the Cardinals give him extra attention. Still, there will be plays where a Cardinals lineman will have to match up with him
Chances are that will be Bradley Sowell fairly often, with the Colts looking to test the second-year pro who plays left tackle for the Cardinals.
Last year, though, Sowell was with the Colts, so he’s not unfamiliar with what Mathis brings to the table.
“Obviously he’s a really good player so it doesn’t matter really what you know about him, but he’s a good pass rusher and stuff,” Sowell said, adding the team has to do a good job against him. “It’s going to help out getting to see it, knowing, kind of, what his moves are but he’s still going to be tough to block.”
A starter for Arizona’s last six games, Sowell has already faced off with some elite defensive linemen, some of whom have gotten the better of him. That was expected, at least to some degree, and all in all there is a belief he’s gotten better over the course of the season.
“Things are starting to slow down a little bit; I’m starting not to panic as much. Sometimes I would get a little panicky early,” Sowell said. “I’ve still got a lot to work on, but right now I’m fighting hard and trying my best.
“I’m just going to live with my best effort every week.”