We first talked with Philadelphia Eagles Left Guard, Evan Mathis during his bye week earlier this season and learned that he is not just about playing football. The Alabama native owns a training facility in Arizona (ZoneAP.com) and has an extremely entertaining twitter page (@EvanMathis69) to just name some of his many outside of football accomplishments. His team has struggled but Mathis has enjoyed the best year of his career. A feat he attributes to his coaching staff, the players around him, and his conditioning.
Mathis joined the Eagles in early stages of training camp and won the competition for a starting spot on the squad. He was vital in establishing Lesean McCoy as the top running back in NFC in 2011 and has quietly impressed analysts around the country with his play. With his work ethic and drive, he has taken his career from steady back-up on losing teams to premiere status at his position.
Evan was nice enough, to once again, answer a few of my questions.
Mike Kaye: Looking a back on this season, what was the most positive thing you can take out of your performance?
Evan Mathis: I definitely had the best year of my career. The techniques and methods that Howard Mudd taught me have made the game so much easier to play. I look at this as a starting point and will build on it from here. I’ve always worked to improve each day and will continue to do that going forward.
MK: You are the Left Guard for the top rusher in the NFC. While Lesean McCoy has unquestionable talent, what do you think you and your fellow lineman have done to put Shady in a position to use those skills to best of this ability?
EM: As an offensive line, we have played really well as one unit and not five individuals. We work well together to keep the defenders away from Shady. Working together requires commitment during the work week on the practice field and in the meeting rooms. Everybody in the offensive line room bought in to what we were trying to accomplish and I love the way we all came together.
MK: The season has ended in disappointment, but what do you take from the success the team has had towards the end of the season? How can you build on that?
EM: It would great to parlay the energy, effort, intensity, and great play that’s going on now into next season. We’ve all learned a lot from 2011 and will turn those lessons into a great 2012.
MK: The Eagles’ offensive line has been almost criminally underrated this season, why do you think that is?
EM: When you don’t have a winning record there’s not much reason to give anybody praise. I know we far exceeded what most people expected out of us. Now take how well you think we played and expect more out of us because we only plan on improving.
“When it comes to making the Pro Bowl as an offensive lineman it usually takes generating more than one year of buzz to get in. Very few people pay attention to the OL during a game. They just vote for the names they’ve heard or whoever signed a big contract recently. I’ll get in eventually, I’m too relentless not to.” – Mathis (69)
MK: In many Philly fans and reporters minds you were snubbed from the Pro Bowl this season. Do you think that has more to do with name recognition or the just the team’s season?
EM: Maybe a combination of both. When it comes to making the Pro Bowl as an offensive lineman it usually takes generating more than one year of buzz to get in. Very few people pay attention to the OL during a game. They just vote for the names they’ve heard or whoever signed a big contract recently. I’ll get in eventually, I’m too relentless not to.
MK: What game sticks out to you most this season?
EM: The 49ers game. We had a decent lead at halftime against a very solid team but came out and played a terrible 2nd half. Had we finished that game the way we were supposed to, we would have not only had a W against a great team, but been in much better position to get in to the playoffs.
MK: As an Alabama alum, why do you think the program has been able to sustain such consistent success over the last decade?
EM: Alabama is a very tradition-rich school where the players learn to play with grit and pride. The toughness that Nick Saban instills in the team is what keeps the team’s success consistent. I didn’t have the opportunity to play for Coach Saban but I truly admire the work he has done for the Crimson Tide.
MK: As a free agent (yet again) how are you preparing for the off-season?
EM: I have a gym in Scottsdale, Arizona called Zone Athletic Performance (www.zoneap.com). I’m very obsessive about my training and only take a week off each year. I used the lockout this past year as a chance to get in the best shape of my life. I think it helped me tremendously during the season. I’ll take a week off and visit a lot of family in Alabama and then I’m right back to training at Zone. It’s important to me to be the fastest and strongest lineman in the league.
MK: Your twitter account continues to gain steam; do you attribute that to your ability on the field or your word-of-mouth legend on Eagles blogs?
EM: The massive following of the Philadelphia Eagles has definitely helped me gain a lot of steam on Twitter. I love interacting with friends and fans on there. I’m usually just joking around or messing with people, I like to have fun with it. I’ve said before that the only thing I take seriously is football. Just follow me because I’m awesome (sarcasm).
MK: With the league’s quarterbacks putting up massive yardage and a lack of 1,500 yard runners, is the league becoming even more of a passing league or are defenses become easier to read?
EM: That’s a tough question and I haven’t really given it much thought. Let’s see if it’s still the case in 2012 and we can start analyzing whether it truly is a trend.
Want more Evan? Check out Mike’s first conversation with the Eagles LG Here