Arizona Cardinals hoping “Honey Badger”returns to form

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 19: Tyrann Mathieu #32 of the Arizona Cardinals prepares for a game against the Chicago Bears at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 19: Tyrann Mathieu #32 of the Arizona Cardinals prepares for a game against the Chicago Bears at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Arizona Cardinals’ safety Tyrann Mathieu can no longer blame injuries for his less than impressive play over the last year

The Arizona Cardinals should be feeling a little nervous by now. When an organization hands over a ton of money to one of it’s players, it rightfully expects alot in return. The Cards’ front office has to be hoping it didn’t make a mistake with this one.

In August of 2016, the Cardinals inked defensive back Tyrann Mathieu to a five-year, $62.5 million extension. Despite suffering two torn ACLs since joining Arizona in 2013, the club’s third-round draft pick nevertheless convinced management he was worth the risk.

Mathieu parlayed an absolute stellar campaign in 2015 into the monstrous contract. The safety played incredibly that season, registering 89 tackles,17 passes defensed, five interceptions, a sack and a touchdown. All of that was accomplished in just 14 contests, before the second of his major knee injuries occurred in December of that year.

Since then, the “Honey Badger’s” play has been underwhelming to say the least. More injuries cost Mathieu six games in 2016. In the 10 appearances he did make, the 5’9″, 186 pounder tallied just 35 tackles, four pass breakups, one pick and one sack.

More from Raising Zona

To say the Cards expected more bang for their buck would be an understatement. By all accounts, Mathieu was rushed back from the knee surgery performed on him at the end of ’15. Deserved or not, the former LSU standout received a pass for his exceptionally mediocre performance last year.

It’s now one game into the current schedule and the excuses have run out. If Mathieu’s showing against the Detroit Lions is any indication, the 25-year old may have lost some of his explosiveness. He made just three tackles this past Sunday, and was beaten quite steadily in coverage throughout the day.

The Cardinals need much more than that from someone who was on the cusp of greatness just two calendar years ago. Of the $62.5 million awarded to him in his deal, $40 million of it is guaranteed. It’s about time that Mathieu started earning it.