GREEN BAY—Clay Matthews’ move from outside linebacker to inside linebacker was a game-changer in the Packers’ 55-14 win over the Bears on Sunday night. Can it be a season-changer for a Packers defense that moved up from No. 32 to No. 30 in run defense?
“It gives us more options,” Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said, stopping short of calling Matthews’ move a cure-all for a previously ailing defense. “We like the guys we have. It’s a matter of fitting them into the slots.”
Matthews’ position switch was the big story on Sunday night. A player who made his name rushing from the outside, sacking quarterbacks and twirling his hair in celebration, lined up inside last night ostensibly to chase Bears running back Matt Forte.
“I thought it did have a major impact on our run defense last night,” Capers said. “You’re looking for a way to get your best 11 football players on the field.”
Matthews was credited with 11 tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry. On one of his tackles, he shot into the backfield and stopped the runner as he was taking the hand-off. On that particular play, disguise was the scheme, as Matthews lined up inside and then moved outside prior to the snap of the ball.
“You saw him impact the game more last night than he has in a while,” Capers said.
Nick Perry replaced Matthews on the outside, and Perry was credited with two tackles and a tackle for loss.
“It gave us a little more physical presence inside,” Capers said of moving Matthews to inside linebacker. “Clay is a versatile guy. He was able to impact the game in a lot of different areas. We were able to rush him from the inside and from the outside. It worked the way we wanted.”
More of the same can be expected this Sunday when the Packers host the Eagles but, of course, the Eagles will have tape of last night’s game and will be prepared to use counter measures.
“Clay is the consummate team guy. He likes to rush, like everybody else does. He’s either rushing or dropping from the inside, instead of the outside,” Capers said. “We have so much confidence in Clay that no matter where you put him, he’s going to impact the game.”
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - NOV. 10