Clay Matthews: 2012 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews

1) Introduction:  Packers OLB Clay Matthews entered the 2012 season looking to re-gain his 2010 form when he posted 15 sacks and helped lead the Packers to their third Super Bowl title.  Matthews started strong before a hamstring injury sidelined him for over a month later in the season.  He returned for the latter part of the season and helped boost an otherwise anemic pass rush.

2) Profile:

Clay Matthews III

  • Age: 26
  • Born: 5/14/1986 in Agoura Hills, CA
  • Height: 6’03”
  • Weight: 255
  • College: Southern California
  • Rookie Year: 2009
  • NFL Experience: 4 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: The Packers needed a dramatic improvement over their 2011 defensive performance.  Matthews was seen as a key piece to bolstering that side of the ball.  Matthews was moved back to right outside linebacker where he was effective during his rookie season.  With first round draft pick Nick Perry on the opposite side at left outside linebacker, the hope was that Matthews would see more favorable matchups and opportunities to pester opposing quarterbacks.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Matthews graded out best in Green Bay’s big win at the Houston Texans in week six.  But his biggest highlight was the four-sack performance he put up in week two against the Chicago Bears.  It was a sight for sore eyes and a sign that the Matthews of old was back.  The low-light of Matthews season was missing over a month with a hamstring injury.  This proved to be a low-light for the Packers defense as a whole as they were nothing close to what they were with Matthews on the field.  Matthews rarely graded poorly in a single game, according to Pro Football Focus and he was a constant force when on the field and healthy.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Matthews was, by far, the Packers’ best defensive player in 2012.  Clearly their defensive Most Valuable Player.  His 14 sacks was his second-highest career total and he added a dimension that no other defender was capable of adding when he stepped on the field.  While the team won all but one of the games that Matthews missed, they were clearly not the same on defense without him.  Had it not been for quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ high level of play, Green Bay would have likely struggled to play to the level that they did with Matthews active.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Matthews had three sacks in the postseason and graded out well overall.  He was vital in containing Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson during the wild card round victory.  He did manage a sack on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the divisional round.  Matthews turned in a decent performance in run defense and had a pass deflected in that game.  Unfortunately the rest of the defense wasn’t able to match that level and they left San Francisco empty handed.

Season Report Card:

(A-) Level of expectations met during the season

(A) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(A-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: A-


Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on

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7 thoughts on “Clay Matthews: 2012 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

  1. Another Dlineman with attitude and another OLB who can play with discipline will allow CM3 to play even better. The D is not that far away from being near the top of the league again. Perry may be the answer at OLB and the Dlineman isn’t on the team yet. FA (who am I kidding) or draft has to be the answer.

    1. I think it’s becoming clearer and clearer that talent is keeping this unit from being great. Doesn’t matter what scheme you run, if the players can’t win their matchups and make plays, then it’s all for naught.

      1. I knew those ammonia capsules would work sooner or later..LOL

        Saying it all along..Grade C players at the front seven except for one.

  2. We saw what the Ravens could do with 3 good/great DL. We also saw what SF did after Etuini Haloti Ngata (full name for a full dude) went out.
    Since we’ll need to get past SF next year and a stud named Peterson twice…let’s get a stud on the DL.

    1. Ngata is a beast. On the other hand – Kemoeatu, McPhee, Cody, Art Jones are no better and probably collectively worse than the GB D line. Gore was much more effective in the 2nd half after Ngata was out. If Raji was even close to Ngata’s level we would be fine. He’s not. We don’t have anyone in the front 7 who is a matchup problem for the offense except Clay. We need a big stud (or 2) on the D Line. Add that to Perry, Bishop and the progression of young defenders and we will be fine.

    2. Even including Ngata’s playing time San Francisco gained 200 yards out of the pistol formation and averaged just over 8 yards/play out of the formation. The Ravens hardly had it figured out and it’s a mystery why Harbaugh didn’t go to it inside the red zone more often.

  3. One stud DL in the 1st or 2nd round at least. Pickett needs a replacement this draft and if he is done in 2012 we are hurting. Pickett at 40% of plays in 2013 or beyond is still better than what we have today. A good DL will make the LB’s (all of them) look great.
    Raji needs to play better as well.

    Perry and CM3 have been hurt and another OLB is needed for rotation and injuries.

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