Darren Waller: Not many people can effectively replace Tyrann Mathieu
The Chiefs have undergone some significant personnel changes this offseason, highlighted by the team trading receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins.
But Kansas City also has to replace one of its key defensive players, having let safety Tyrann Mathieu walk in free agency.
The Chiefs signed safety Justin Reid, ostensibly to fill that void. But on the Green Light podcast with Chris Long this week, Raiders tight end Darren Waller said part of what makes Mathieu so effective is the emotional lift he provides as a leader.
“I feel like it’s just the dog nature. That dude is like a lion out there, you know?” Waller said. “There’s not many people who can replicate that level of raising everybody’s intensity level and energy level and just a collective confidence. So I wonder who’s going to be that for them now, because there’s few people — if any — who can do it the way that he does. And I feel like he gave them identity.
“Especially when, I feel like they struggled during the season, but then when it came time during the playoffs, they were just able to flip a switch almost. And I knew who had to have been leading them on the front lines of that mindset and that mental shift. So, we’ll see how that works for them.”
Mathieu has performed well against the Raiders throughout his career, recording a pair of interceptions, three passes defensed, and two fumble recoveries in seven games.
The Raiders beat the Chiefs in Kansas City back in 2020. But they were blown out in both matchups in 2021. Time will tell if the changes Las Vegas and Kansas City have made during the 2022 offseason will produce different results.