INDIANAPOLIS – “Next Man Up” probably does not do this situation enough justice.
The Colts defense will be without last year’s NFL sack champion in
Mathis 19.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles in 2013 not only led the NFL, but the timeliness of his wreckage changed momentum in several pivotal contests.
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky isn’t shying away from how the loss of Mathis impacts his defense come September.
“One thing about Robert, he’s a great guy, great individual, great football player, a family man and we feel sorry for him of course,” Manusky told SIRIUS XM Radio earlier this week. “We would love to have him for those four games.
“I look at it from an injury standpoint. Somebody goes down and you’ve got to replace him. It is next man up. Is it the caliber of what Robert has done over his career? No, but we’ve got to make do with what we have on the roster and go with it.”
So what do the Colts have to work with at outside linebacker?
Prior to Mathis’ suspension, Walden made it clear that he needed to have a stronger impact in the pass rush game in 2013.
Who else will try and aid in the pass rush department?
In 2013, Mathis accounted for 46.4 percent of the Colts sacks, 10 percent higher than any other player in the league.
The Colts begin 2014 with Denver (the No. 1 team in the NFL last year at passing yards per play) and Philadelphia (the No. 2 team in the NFL last year at passing yards per play).
Manusky knows what he will be up against and the planning has already begun for how to plan without the game’s most disruptive pass rusher.
“You’ve got to change a little bit, mix it up a little bit. If they are going to slide the protection to Robert because of what he did last year and what he did the last couple of years, that’s going to change their thinking going into a game plan if they are going to slide to him,” Manusky said.
“You’ve got to show them some different things. We’ve got the players in place right now with Bjoern Werner, Cam Johnson and Daniel Adongo. We’ve got to go out there and think about the situation to put them in the best situation to make plays.”