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.
William Clay Matthews III
Weight: 255 lbs.
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——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.