University of Washington Joe Mathis Uphill Climb Towards NFL began months ago, long before the NFL Combine
Washington Husky defensive end/outside linebacker Joe Mathis is an incredibly well spoken young man who afforded me an opportunity to interview him prior to the NFL combine. But that piece is special. He is so much more than what you will see at the combine. Grit and grist, dedication and devotion. The longer I conversed with the young man, the more convinced I became that I was talking to somebody special.
Nothing has come easy for Joe Mathis. He has gotten no quarter, nor has he sought any. His life is not the fairy tale of Hollywood movies. But there is something about the young man that resonates with me. A throwback to the age of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s where men were still bold, but had learned to pause at the tender moments shared with family, and friends.
I have come to respect Joe Mathis, a respect for what he has done, what he never got a chance to do, but most of all, by the manner in which he did it.
Stats and Such
Joe Mathis is a 6-foot-2 255 pound defensive end/outside linebacker whose season with the University of Washington Huskies ended long before his teammates. He played just six games in the 2016 season. In those six games, Joe Mathis recorded 25 tackles, and 5.0 sacks. Projected over the course of the 13 game season plus one playoff game, that would have come in at 59 tackles and 12 sacks for the Huskies.
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But the DE/OLB was the center of that defense. His passion drove the team. In his six games, the team averaged 14 points a game surrendered. In his absence, the team surrendered 20.4 points, or nearly a touchdown more per game. When Joe Mathis fell to a foot injury, his future, and the future of the Washington Huskies, veered ever so slightly off course. Still, the team made the NCAA playoffs. But the team did not bring home a national championship
Bear Goggles On
It’s too easy to target players in the NFL Combine or Draft due to their individual accomplishments. After all, scouting reports individualize a player based on what that player does for a team in terms of HIS accomplishments.
But to measure Joe Mathis accurately, you must expand that scouting scope. When he played, the defense played at a higher level. More of the business end of the defense happened at or near the line of scrimmage.
In games where Joe Mathis played, the Washington Huskies averaged 71 tackles, 4.0 sacks, .8 interceptions, 1.8 passes defended, 7.7 tackles for losses and 2 fumble recoveries per game. When Joe Mathis didn’t play, the Huskies averaged 62 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1.8 interceptions, 4.0 passes defended, 5.3 tackles for losses and .3 fumble recoveries per game.
As you can see, the defensive backs were very much busier without Mathis stalking at the line of scrimmage.
This week is the moment of truth. Some NFL scout will pick up on the fact that Joe Mathis is THAT good, and will focus on him in the combine. Before the injury, he was having the type of season usually hurling the player into the discussions for round one selection. Now? Some have slated him as low as day three.
The NFL Combine is the chance for Joe Mathis to set the record straight. All eyes will be on him, measuring his motion, speed, agility. Medical professionals from 32 NFL teams will review his medical charts, check images of his foot and measure range of motion, flexibility, and function.
NFL personnel directors will measure Joe Mathis for his IQ, behavioral stress, ability to comprehend. Football coaches will measure his ability to comprehend football plays, his understanding of the game and the speed at which he can process what he sees.
Husky Haul Measurements
But I am here to measure his heart, his passion, his zeal. And I can assure all readers that he buries the needle above 100 percent. Not just a quiet smolder that warms his own embers but does little for his teammates.
Joe Mathis is a player who sparks his teammates. He changes the course of a game. Offenses soon learned they must account for Mathis on the field, and that opens opportunities for teammates. If they do not adjust, he feasts on quarterbacks and ball carriers.
His style is an incredible fit into the play of the Seattle Seahawks. Or the Pittsburgh Steelers. He could thrive on the Baltimore Ravens, or the Philadelphia Eagles. He would play very well on the New England Patriots or the Los Angeles Raiders.
In short, he is the type of player that fans of all 32 teams can passionately support. He not only elevates the play of his teammates, he inspires fans as well.