“Just make sure you’re there when it presents itself. He seems to be in the right spot because he’s always playing his tail off. He’s always full speed. That’s why strip sacks and things like that, and the 11.5 that he’s got so far through seven games, is why he’s playing so well. His motor doesn’t stop.”
So just how good has Mathis been during his 11-year NFL career?
He has been named to five consecutive Pro Bowls (2008-12). Ranks second in franchise history to Freeney with 101 career sacks. He’s had four career 10-plus sack seasons, including a previous career best of 11 in 2010. Mathis has had 24 multi-sack games and three career three-plus sack games. And he has forced 42 fumbles since coming into the league in 2003.
Not bad for a guy who was considered to be too small to play defensive end on a regular basis in the NFL. Or was considered to be playing out of position at defensive end. And, of course, there were the doubters that a player from a FCS college program could be as dominant as he has become.
He’s used to the questions. His answers come on the field.
“I think he’s a self-starter. I think he’s a self-motivated guy. I think that’s obvious at the level that he’s played throughout his career. So whether that [playing with a chip on his shoulder] factors in or not, I don’t know,” Pagano explains.
Mathis has his own special way of describing his philosophy.
“Play football. That’s your job. Do your job,” he stressed.