Clay Matthews III: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

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Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews III

1) Introduction: Expectations couldn’t get any higher for Clay Matthews III in 2011; after being the first Packer to record double digit sacks in the first two years, Matthews has been voted into the Pro Bowl every season he has been in the NFL as well as being voted as a All-Pro selection in 2010 and almost bring home defensive player of the year as well.  The team expected that Matthews would again be the center of their pass rushing ability as well as an emotional leader on the defense.

2) Profile:

William Clay Matthews III

Position: OLB
Height: 6-3
Weight: 255 lbs.
AGE: 25
Career Stats

 

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Very high; everyone expected Matthews to continue terrorizing quarterbacks at an alarming rate, if he could do that much damage on a hurt leg (which has plagued him for his entire career), imagine what he could do fully healthy?

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Matthews highlight were definitely in week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings where Matthews essentially shut down quarterback Christian Ponder by himself by recording 2 sacks and generally throwing Ponder out of his groove and in week 13 where he picked off quarterback Eli Manning and returned 38 yard for a defensive touchdown.  However, Matthews was strangely absent in some games, at Atlanta and San Diego Matthews only managed to record one tackle and through out the season wasn’t nearly as effective as he was last year.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: High; Matthews and inside linebacker Desmond Bishop represented the Packers only two consistent pass rush options and opposing offenses knew it.  Many have speculated that without defense end Cullen Jenkins on the other side to keep defenses honest, opposing teams zeroed in on Matthews and made sure to scheme him out of plays with several players almost at all times.  Nevertheless, even with his drop in sack production, Matthews managed to still be a presence in the backfield where he seemed to get the quarterback a split second too late.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Matthews didn’t managed to get to quarterback Eli Manning very much during the playoffs and as a result Manning often had plenty of time to sit in the pocket and pick his receivers, which ultimately lead to the Packers quick exit.  It however is not all on Matthews, since if he is double or tripled team, it becomes the responsibility of the other linebackers (in the playoffs that was Brad Jones) to make the big play with the one-on-one match up. While Jones did sack Manning once, it still wasn’t enough to stop the Giants offense.

Season Report Card:

(B) Level of expectations met during the season
(A) Contributions to team’s overall success
(A) Player’s contributions in the playoffs

Overall Grade for the year: A

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • Ron LC

    “A” is right on here, Thomas. I recall Larry Mc Carren’s comment in the Giant game. “He’s covered by two every play and some times three. If they don’t get him some help, he is going to have a shortened career.” This paraphrase says it all. Something wnet bad, very bad with the Packer D this past year.

    MM and Capers have the off-season to fix it.
    An improvement in total yards from last to the middle of the pack should take a lot of the pressure off the offense. Get off on third down and give AR more time with the ball.

    With help from the right side just how good will CM3 be? It will be fun to watch.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      That’s basically the reason why I gave him an A even though he didn’t produce as many big plays as he’s gotten in previous years. If you are getting double or triple teamed, you are doing your job, since now other players have one-on-ones.

  • Dan

    He’s a keeper, Ted, please get this man some help

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Agreed, though I wonder if drafting an OLB trumps drafting a FS. Considering that Thompson may not have a choice but draft for need and get another FS (I mean, how can you predict that Nick Collins would have a potential career-killing injury?)

  • JimR_in_DC

    Gotta give CM3 a B after that (semi-)Pro Bowl performance of his. ;) :D

  • Fritz1218

    Did not Clay play on the right side previous years????

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      his first year, i believe…

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I believe Matthews played ROLB (i.e. the quarterback’s blind side) his rookie year but then switched over to LOLB so that he and Cullen Jenkins would be on opposite sides. Now that Jenkins is gone, I’m not sure Matthews doesn’t switch back officially.

      • Fritz1218

        I thought he was more effective rushing the Q from the blind(right) side.

  • JimR_in_DC

    I believe he played both sides in the past.

  • Mojo

    Agree on this grade. It appeared to me CM3 went back in coverage more than in the past. Yet he is by far the most disruptive force on D the Pack has, whether it’s chasing someone down, getting hits or sacks on the QB or covering RB’s & TE’s. His awareness of what the opposing offense is trying to do seems to increase with every year, as Matthews often backs off a play to better position himself as to were the action might be going.

    Shame we waste his high effort with such little help from others. I believe he had significant injuries he played through the last two years also. I’d be interested to know what he had earlier this year when he stated we’d be surprised by what he’s playing through (Last year it was a fractured shin).

    Anyway, CM3 was one of the few legitimate stars we had on D this year even though his sack numbers were down.

  • Dan

    Can we clone Mathews somehow