When the Chiefs cut Eric Berry last offseason, it was fair to ask how the Chiefs would find his replacement. Tyrann Mathieu was already on the team by the time the Chiefs released Berry, but it was a tall order to have any safety fill Berry’s spot. One year later, Mathieu proved to be the perfect replacement.
Mathieu had a special 2019 regular season. Statistically, it was his second best when it came to interceptions, pass deflections and sacks. Mathieu had just one interception during the first half of the season. His level of play evolved during the second half after he collected three picks, and may have had more on some near plays.
Mathieu is one of the more physical safeties in the NFL, challenging receivers more than any other safety. According to Pro Football Focus, Mathieu was the only safety to have three or more interceptions and pass breakups and did not allow a touchdown in the second half of the 2019 season. PFF also gave him the highest grade as a cover safety and overall at the safety position during the second half of the regular season.
During the season, rookie Juan Thornhill became a valuable asset prior to his knee injury. During the postseason, Dan Sorensen stepped up in Thornhill’s spot on defense, plus made some big plays on special teams.
Going into 2020, Mathieu leads a safety group on the rise as the defense looks to continue its improvement.