With 6 days left before the Super Bowl, all I keep hearing about is how much it’s going to hurt the Indianapolis Colts to not have Dwight Freeney, without whom they aren’t going to be able to be effective in pressuring New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees.  I don’t know if Freeney will play or not, and he’s certainly their best defensive weapon, but he’s certainly not their ONLY good defensive weapon.  In fact, he’s not their only Pro Bowl Defensive End.

On the other side of the Indianapolis Defensive Line is a guy named Robert Mathis, who was voted into the Pro Bowl this season as the other starting defensive end along with Dwight Freeney.  He was voted there ahead of Mario Williams – a former #1 overall pick by the Houston Texans.

Not once have I heard the sports talk people on ESPN or the radio (or on ESPN radio) mention Robert Mathis’ name.  As far as I know, he’s going to be playing in the Super Bowl.  If he weren’t, that’d be HUGE news.

The differences between Freeney and Mathis?  Mathis had 5 additional solo tackles this season, assisted on 8 additional tackles, giving him 13 more (combined) for the season than Freeney.  Now there’s the possibility that runners go the opposite direction to avoid Freeney, but typically run games don’t work that way.  Typically NFL offenses rush in one direction or another based on where their strengths are on the offensive line and based on where linebackers are.

Freeney amassed 13.5 sacks this season, putting him in third place in the entire NFL, but Mathis wasn’t too far behind, amassing 9.5 on the year putting him in 15th place in the NFL.  Mathis was 3rd in the NFL this season for Forced Fumbles with 5.  Freeney?  Only 1 this season.

Neither one of them is putting up huge numbers in the post-season, either.  Neither has a sack NOR a forced fumble.  I don’t know the stats on hurries, but none of the other stats would seem to indicate that the Colts should be worried about a lack of pass rush in the Super Bowl even without Dwight Freeney. Obviously they want him in the game and they won’t be as good without him, it’s just frustrating to listen to the people who get paid to talk sports and not hear anyone mention Robert Mathis.

Over the past three seasons, Freeney has played in 38 games, amassed 73 tackles, 27.5 sacks, 1 Pass deflection and 9 Forced Fumbles.
In the same span, Robert Mathis has played 42 games and has amassed 117 tackles, 28 sacks, 5 pass deflections and 14 Forced Fumbles.

The guy who would likely start if Freeney can’t play – Raheem Brock – 43 games, 93 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections and 2 forced fumbles.  Remember, that’s serving as a backup to two pro bowl defensive linemen.

In comparison, Will Smith of the Saints has played 48 games, has 176 tackles, 23 sacks, 7 pass deflections and 6 forced fumbles.
The guy sharing the line with Smith?  Two options:
Charles Grant, 38 games, 125 tackles, 11 sacks, 6 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble.
Bobby McCray, 46 games, 59 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 3 pass deflections and 2 forced fumbles.

Raheem Brock might be a backup for the Colts, but he could probably be in contention to be a starter on the Saints.

As a Colts fan, I hope Freeney is there.  He’s definitely one of the top 5 players on either of the rosters for the Super Bowl squads.  I just wish Mathis would get more credit where it’s certainly due.