Adding “The Landlord” to our list seems a bit counter-intuitive based on our premise in the introduction. This list should not include players who are playing well, and Tyrann Mathieu is doing that. He leads the team in interceptions (5) and passes deflected (7) and is fourth in tackles (57).
But, and maybe I’m alone in feeling this way, it was not until Week 13 against the Denver Broncos that it truly felt like Mathieu had a tangible impact on a game this season.
There was a strong argument at the end of the 2019 season that Mathieu should have been the Defensive Player of the Year. As a result, we entered the 2020 season believing we would see a continuation of that play, if not improvement on it, as the team got better around him and he added a year in Spagnuolo’s system. But we have not.
A lot of this is addressed above, and it relates to the play of Thornhill. However, some of it also seems to stem from Mathieu simply not playing with the same energy that he did in 2019. This definitely is not always true; he has almost certainly been the team’s best defender (again) in 2020. But, Kansas City needs more out of him if they’re going to justify giving him another large contract in the near future (due $14.5m in 2021 on a team option or, more likely, due for an extension).
However he does it, the artist formerly known as the Honey Badger needs to return to those rabid roots and find a way to make a significant impact on the defense, game in and game out, moving forward, regardless of where the coaches need/ask him to play. If he returns to that 2019 form, Kansas City will be that much closer to making good on its #runitback campaign.