ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Damarri Mathis had an ugly start to the season.
“I felt like I played poorly,” Mathis said.
According to Pro Football Focus’ count, Mathis was targeted nine times and gave up eight catches for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Most of that, including both touchdowns, was to Jakobi Meyers. The Broncos lost the game 17-16.
After the game, the 24-year-old took a beating on social media. Some fans said he was a disgrace to the number 27. Another said that the Broncos shouldn’t let Mathis on the flight home. (The game was played in Denver, for what it’s worth.)
“It’s tough, but I look at it as I have another opportunity this week, just to be able to show what I can do and get a win.”
Mathis knows exactly what he did wrong.
“My eyes, my leverage, my technique.”
For a cornerback, eyes, leverage and technique are just about everything. He’s spent the week working on those areas.
“Trying to be poised; be the guy that I know that I am, playing under control, focusing on my technique, cleaning up small things.”
With All-Pro cornerback Pat Surtain on one side of the field, Mathis figures to get plenty of work every week. Surtain has offered some words of encouragement since the loss, mentioning that he’s gone through the same thing.
Last season in another game against the Raiders, Surtain gave up five catches on six targets for 106 yards and two touchdowns. The next week, he gave up 77 yards and another touchdown. Over the course of the season, 44% of the yards Surtain allowed and 75% of the touchdowns came in that two-week stretch.
Mathis went through a similar stretch last season. He subbed in mid-game against the Colts, after Ronald Darby tore his ACL and gave up a completion on all nine of the targets against him. The next week, in his first NFL start, he was called for four pass interference penalties. But Mathis bounced back and allowed a sub-100 passer rating in eight of the final 10 games of the season.
He says that experience doesn’t necessarily give him more confidence.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Mathis said. “I would say that’s how I carry myself in any situation. Any start that I have in life that isn’t the way I want it to be, I’m gonna clean it up. That’s who I am as a person.”
He also says that going up against Jahan Dotson, who he held to two catches in a college game four years ago, doesn’t change anything.
“I’ve always got confidence,” Mathis said. “I don’t think that really matters. He’s a great player. I’m gonna do what I need to do and show that I’m not going to play like I did last week.”
While his confidence hasn’t changed, his motivation has.
“It does motivate me more,” Mathis said. “That wasn’t my standard. I hold myself to a higher standard.”
The goal for Sunday is simple.
“Just playing like I usually play,” Mathis said. “I didn’t feel like I played that way last game.”