Tyrann Mathieu Must Become Honey Badger Again

GLENDALE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 27: Free safety Tyrann Mathieu

Coming off a disappointing 2016 season, safety Tyrann Mathieu is hoping for “Savage Season: Part Deux.”

Early word this off-season is that Tyrann Mathieu is focused, quiet and determined to return to an all-pro level. 2016 was a year to forget for the 5th year man out of LSU. He recorded 35 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumbled and only 1 interception. A far cry from his self-proclaimed “savage season” in 2015. A season, I believe, would have resulted in NFC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Mathieu played the 2016 season with a brace on his knee, which seemed to hinder his ability to roam free in the defensive backfield. The aggressiveness we’ve grown accustomed to from a healthy Honey Badger just wasn’t there. Adding only additional frustration to the sub-par season, Mathieu was then placed on season-ending injured-reserve due to a shoulder injury.

Entering his 5th year with the Cardinals, can we label him injury prone? Three stints on IR would say yes. But as a teammate once said of Mathieu, “he heals like Wolverine.

Mathieu will report to camp without the knee brace or any set goals for the upcoming 2017 season, as reported by Darren Urban of azcardinals.com. The move certainly is imperative if he wants to get back to his destructive ways on defense. Mathieu is the X-Factor on defense. And if this unit is looking to continue to be elite, it’ll need Mathieu’s versatility.

He’s a veteran now, a father and a professional. That might be the motivation behind the lack of “noise” from him so far, who knows. Only he does. He’s grown and developed into a perennial defensive player and household name since being taken 69th overall in the 2013 draft. And certainly Cardinal fans are rooting for a comeback season for the ages.

Staying on the field for an entire season will be the first step in achieving that. Fail to do that, and the words injury prone will be the only adjective used to describe the safety.

Certainly not the two words you want to hear when describing a SAVAGE.