Colts Key Matchup: Mathis vs Jansen

Colts defensive end Robert Mathis will test his speed against huge Redskins offensive tackle Jon Jansen this Sunday in a matchup where he's giving up a tremendous size disadvantage. Greg Talmage takes a closer look at this matchup...

The Washington Redskins love to run RB Clinton Portis off tackle and behind the two bookends of their O-line—offensive tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen. This must be working well, because currently the Redskins' run offense ranks third in the NFL, averaging 130 yards per game. The Colts, on the other hand, are last in the NFL in rushing defense, giving up 166.8 yards per game.

So I'm sure Washington sees the matchup of RT Jon Jansen vs. LDE Robert Mathis on paper and instantaneously thinks "mismatch" -- especially in the run game. Jansen is a beast of a run-blocker. He is more of a classic straight-ahead type, who uses his big body (6'6, 308 pounds) to gobble up opposing defensive linemen.

Through his work ethic and no nonsense approach, word is that Jon Jansen quickly became one of head coach Joe Gibbs' favorite players, reminding the coach of the type of offensive linemen who made up the infamous Hogs back in the 1980s. Stylistically, Jansen definitely plays like a throwback. For him, it's all about strength and getting dirty.

Jansen is a tall, long-armed and very physical tackle. He plays with a mean streak and comes off the ball hard, generating power through his knee bend. He wants to outmuscle you. Defensive ends aren't going to get much of a bull-rush against Jansen. But since he's more of a straight-ahead blocker, he doesn't show a lot of quickness or lateral movement skills. This means he can be beaten to the inside and will struggle to redirect. It may be the one weakness that Mathis can exploit with his speed.

Before this season, Mathis was more of a specialist who usually only saw action on obvious passing downs. In fact, he played during just 35% of the downs in 2005. So learning how to properly defend the run is still something Mathis is trying to master. Real road-graders like Jansen will still give him fits and the Redskins know this.

Jansen has a 60-pound weight advantage over Mathis, so expect Washington to attack this matchup early and often. If Jansen succeeds at getting his hands on Mathis and uses his weight advantage and leverage to control the battle, it could be a long day in the trenches for Robert Mathis. So look for the Colts defensive end to use every move in his arsenal this Sunday to keep Jansen from getting control over him at the point of impact.

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