Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. takes a look at the best duos in the AFC in this Insider piece.
The AFC South is represented twice:
Horton: “Not a lot of people talk about these tackles, but when you watch them on film, they are very impressive. The strength of their game is pass protection, and they anchor a unit that only gave up 24 sacks a year ago. Both of them have excellent footwork, and while Roos is a finesse and technician player, Stewart is a physical mauler. They rarely get beaten on the edge, and if they had better play from the inside guys, this would be the best O-line in the NFL.”
My thoughts: He’s right on the money here, and it’s another reason there is a great deal of pressure on new comer Steve Hutchinson and the two young holdovers who weren’t great last year, Eugene Amano and Leroy Harris. (More on that here.)
Horton: “Another veteran duo, Freeney and Mathis will be switching from their longtime 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme. That will force them to stand up as OLBs on early downs, but in four-man nickel fronts, they will move back to DE. Their tackling numbers are dropping (only 62 combined tackles in 2011), but their pass-rush pressure is still good, with a combined 18 sacks. Freeney is a really quick edge rusher with a patented swim move, while Mathis is a relentless pass-rusher who plays to the whistle every down.”
My thoughts: Chuck Pagano isn’t going to mess with success. He’ll maximize the opportunities for Freeney and Mathis to do what they do best as part of a more complex and less predictable front. They both seem energized by the change.