INDIANAPOLIS – In 2012, the questions were if Robert Mathis could adjust to an outside linebacker role in a new 3-4 defensive scheme.
Mathis answered those inquirers with eight sacks in 12 games and earned his fifth straight Pro Bowl selection.
In 2013, the questions were if Mathis could sustain Pro Bowl numbers without Dwight Freeney opposite him for the first time in his NFL career.
Mathis' answer after four games?
How about an NFL-best 7.5 sacks, 2.5 more than Mathis has had in any other season after four games.
On Sunday, Mathis tied a career-high with 3.0 sacks in earning a game ball and he got to the Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert in a multitude of ways.
- Sack No. 1: On a 1st-and-10, Mathis and fellow outside linebacker Erik Walden swapped spots just prior to the snap. Mathis is standing up at the snap and the Jaguars block the Pro Bowler with a tight end and a running back. As Gabbert steps up into the pocket, Mathis peels off the double team and drops the Jaguars quarterback.
- Sack No. 2: On a 1st-and-10, Mathis is standing up on the right side of the Colts defense, opposite Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe. Mathis gets by Monroe with a left hand underneath Monroe's arms and takes down Gabbert from the outside rush thanks to the Colts interior pushing the Jaguars quarterback back six yards.
- Sack No. 3: On a 3rd-and-7, Mathis is back on the left side and standing up with the Jaguars in the shotgun. On the snap, Mathis stunts to the middle and pushes Jaguars center Brad Meester back, before sacking Gabbert.
Mathis will now head into Sunday's contest at Lucas Oil Stadium just 1.0 sack shy of becoming the 30th player in NFL history to reach the 100.0-sack plateau.
"Just got to keep playing. Sacks help us get wins so I'm all for it," Mathis says of the mark.
"If it's there then it's there. You have to play football and play within the parameters of the defense. If you are able to get it then let's get it."
With 7.5 sacks after four games, Mathis is on the very early pace to challenge Dwight Freeney's single-season record of 16.0 sacks (in 2004). Mathis is also just 8.5 sacks away from Freeney's franchise record of 107.5.
For now, the next milestone is sack No. 100 and the concise Mathis is ready to do it in front of the home fans this weekend.
"That's the plan."