Kansas City Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu Film Review


Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu has game changing ability, but how does he fit into the new Kansas City Chiefs defense?

The main objective of this offseason for the Kansas City Chiefs is straightforward; build a league average defense.

General Manager Brett Veach stuck to his hyper-aggressive nature for the second year in a row by nabbing the team’s top-rated free agent.

Chiefs fans didn’t have to wait long, as an agreement for a 3yr/$42million contract was reached with Tyrann Mathieu mere hours into the start of the legal tampering period.

The player best known as the Honey Badger bet on himself, and it paid off in a big way.

Though he is only 26 years old, he brings a leadership aspect that was lost with the release of fan favorites Justin Houston and Eric Berry.


Mathieu also carries a significant chip on his shoulder after being doubted for his size and off-field trouble in his college days. Adversity has no doubt shaped him into the person he is today.

All those things are great, but the most important question is can he play football at a level that warrants $14 million per year?

A deep dive into game film is often the best way to evaluate a player from afar.

The focus of this review is to identify traits, skills, athletic ability, and football IQ; (the most important indicators for long term success).


Play Recognition is vital to consistent safety play. Anticipating the play instead of reacting to it can be the difference between a simple 10 yard gain and a touchdown.

In the clip above, Mathieu has the field awareness to read the offense and break on the ball before Baker Mayfield even starts his throw.


The pass was completed for 10 yards, but if Mathieu is any later to turn and run towards the receiver, it could have easily gone for much more.

Pairing great instincts with explosive ability makes for a deadly combination.

Speaking of closing speed, the Honey Badger eats up some serious ground in the play above.

He starts the play by backpedaling roughly 15 yards into an intermediate zone. Once Mayfield decides to dump off the pass to his safety valve, Mathieu changes direction and accelerates back to where he started to make the tackle.

This may seem mundane, but this play forced a 3rd & 5 that ultimately led to a punt. These are colossal momentum-changing plays throughout the course of a game.

Not only does this clip give you a sense of the sheer athletic ability that Mathieu possesses, but it also showcases his character. He could have easily jogged and let somebody else make the play, but he hustled and rewarded his team with a stop. That’s the kind of player that others will follow into battle.

As you can see, Mathieu is not afraid to get his nose dirty when needed.

He is consistently is able to make blockers miss while keeping his eyes up and on the ball at all times.

Good fundamentals and targeting low allows him to be an effective tackler no matter who he meets in the hole.

This aspect of his game will be especially important after the departure of Eric Berry. Standing at roughly five foot nine and 175lbs, he has to be crafty in order to survive a scrum like this. He can’t afford to let the bigger stronger linemen get their hands on him.

Years of playing inside as a box safety has allowed him to hone his craft, and become one of the league’s premier players at the position despite his size.

Now you understand why they call him Honey Badger.

He is not afraid of anyone, and will gladly take on anybody who has the misfortune of lining up across from him.

This is a play the Patriots love to run. It often works because of the talents of Rob Gronkowski. Tom Brady looks to him as the ball is snapped and quickly sees that Mathieu is not going to make it easy for them.

Brady was then forced to take a shot that fell incomplete down the right sideline.

These types of plays are often why great secondary play goes unnoticed. If the defender is doing his job, a good quarterback is not going to throw his way. Numbers can be misleading, but the film doesn’t lie.

Here’s some more impressive film of the Honey Badger.

Every game he has new assignments based on matchups, and each week Mathieu plays at a high level.

He came into the league primarily as a slot corner in Arizona. Though he has been playing more safety each year of his career, he can still lock down a top receiver if necessary.

TY Hilton is not exactly an easy guy to lock down, especially on a slant route.

Here Mathieu does a great job of disrupting his timing at the line, avoiding the pick route and forcing Andrew Luck to throw the pass away.

The Chiefs were dismantled by similar looks all of 2018. Mathieu should help turn the tide.

The key to a great blitz is timing.

If you are too eager the offense will see it coming a mile away. If you wait too long, there is no chance of actually affecting the quarterback.

If you get it just right, as Mathieu does in the clip above, you can cause some serious problems.

Carson Wentz never saw the Honey Badger coming from the blind side because he sold man coverage when following the Eagles receiver in motion.

Mathieu is a talented blitzer with the ability to go unnoticed due to his size.

His athleticism and short field burst allows him to get to the ball in a flash.
Dealing with a guy like this gives quarterbacks and offensive linemen significant headaches. This is excellent news for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who is known for his exotic blitz packages.

The word that should be used most when talking about Tyrann Mathieu is versatility. He can do everything you need and then some.

What makes him unique is he does all these things at a high level, which is very rare for a jack of all trades. He can play zone or man coverage in the box, deep down the field, inside and out. He can blitz, play the run and displays a high football IQ.

Most important of all Mathieu is a hard worker, and he wants to win a championship.

If you’re a Chiefs fan, what more could you want? Everyone over-pays in the free agency frenzy, but this appears to be money well spent.

Kansas City got a playmaker and a new defensive leader to command the middle of the field. That’s something they have been lacking for two years.


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