One of the premier pass rushers in the NFL will be missing in action to open the 2014 season. According to the NFL, Colts linebacker Robert Mathis has been suspended the first four games of the season for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.
This is a huge blow to the Colts as they will be facing two of the top offenses in the league without their best defensive player. The Colts open the season on the road at Denver and then play the Eagles at home in week 2. The Colts lack a lot of playmakers on defense and will be exposed in their first two games. The Colts get a break in the schedule as they play two least explosive offenses in Tennessee and Jacksonville the last two games of the suspension. The team should have a 2-2 record when the suspension ends, and could possibly be 3-1 heading into their week 5 game against Baltimore. Mathis claims the failed drug test was due to fertility drugs he was taking while he and his wife were dealing with fertility issues.
From an IDP perspective, Mathis should be dropped down the rankings. Although he is known as a pass rusher, he is listed as a linebacker and not a defensive lineman in the Colts 3-4 defense. Linebackers earn most of their points accumulating huge tackle numbers along with the occasional sack and interception. Mathis does not get many tackles for a linebacker and therefore isn’t as valuable as most linebackers. The sacks were great last year, but I wouldn’t expect him to be able to repeat those numbers again. A linebacker who doesn’t get many tackles AND will miss the first four games of the year shouldn’t be considered an elite IDP player.