Arizona Cardinal’s safety Tyrann Mathieu has been awarded the NFC rookie of the month for October. During the month, Mathieu was able to record 19 solo tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, an interception and a pass deflection. This gives the Cardinals, Mathieu and those who defended him through the draft process some vindication of the selection. Mathieu has been everything the Cardinals hoped he could be during his rookie season and more.
Mathieu was selected in the third round of the NFL draft due to substantial character questions that all revolved around Mathieu’s past problems with marijuana while he was in Baton Rouge and attending LSU. The problems were enough that Mathieu was booted off of the team after being in New York as a contender for the Heisman Trophy the year before. Despite missing a season of football, Mathieu has been able to come back and have a big impact for the Cardinals.
The potential problem for Mathieu and all players who enter the league with these types of problems is they generally make it through their rookie season without issue. There is so much attention, so much scrutiny that the player can barely breathe, let alone get into trouble. The offseason after the first year is when players tend to fall back into bad habits if they are going to have those same issues. There is less scrutiny and more breathing room and the potential for situations to arise that allowed for the problems to happen in the first place. Mathieu looks like a steal at this point and has always been an incredibly natural football player, but it only lasts as long as Mathieu can stay out of trouble. If he cannot stay clean, a great story and a huge steal for the Cardinals almost entirely disappears in an instant.