While his play has been serviceable Tyrann Mathieu has yet to show the Arizona Cardinals he can be dynamic again
Heading into a game against the Philadelphia Eagles last December, the Arizona Cardinals were rolling along. They were 11-2, the offense was scoring points at will and safety Tyrann Mathieu was an MVP candidate.
Then disaster struck. Enjoying an insurmountable lead late in the fourth quarter, Mathieu inexplicably was still in the game. After intercepting a Sam Bradford pass, he landed awkwardly, tearing his ACL for the second time as a Cardinal.
Once again he went through a grueling rehab, but was ahead of schedule when the 2016 training camp arrived. The fact that he recovered so quickly was an amazing feat. In retrospect, he and the team may have been better served taking more time to get well.
The “Honey Badger ” barely resembles the player who made the Pro Bowl last season. He hasn’t shown the spirited play that the Cards and their fans have grown accustomed to seeing.
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On paper it appears he’s having a decent season so far through six games. He’s tied for fourth on the club with 24 tackles. He did tally his first interception of the year this past Monday night, displaying his pre-injury athleticism.
Other Arizona safeties have picked up the slack while Mathieu’s been struggling. Tony Jefferson leads the defense with 48 tackles. D.J.Swearinger is proving to be a brilliant acquisition, making plays against both the run and the pass.
It’s possible the fourth-year pro isn’t all the way healthy yet. He was again struggling through three quarters this past Monday night before having a very good fourth quarter. Was that fourth quarter the beginning of better things for the “Badger”?
The Cards organization is hoping it is. When he’s playing up to par, there’s a noticeable spark to the defense. Let’s hope he gets back to being the “Honey Badger ” real soon.