But he knows he’s going to have to. The newly-minted leader of the Green Bay Packers defense, Clay Matthews, said things are going to change under his watch.
It looks like the changes will be starting with him. The Packers know they need to prepare differently for read-option attacks. Exhibit 1 is the playoff debacle in San Francisco, where 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick torched the Packers for 181 rushing yards and 263 passing yards.
The Packers somehow didn’t prepare for that attack at all prior to the game. Then the coaches spent part of the offseason studying it at Texas A&M. Good thing. They face two read-option teams in the first two weeks of the 2013 season — San Francisco and Washington.
And Matthews says he’s changing his style of play to be ready for it, somewhat to his chagrin.
“I like to get after it. I like to just be going for it, getting after the quarterback,” Matthews said. “With this, it’s the complete opposite. You have to sit there and play pattycake with the tackle, making sure the quarterback doesn’t escape the pocket. You have to read and make sure who’s taking the ball, who’s not. It’s difficult for me to just kind of sit back, especially when Kaepernick was having such success throwing the ball that game, too, which caught us by surprise.”
The good news is, Matthews says the Packers will be ready next time.
“With the game plan we have, we feel good about going into the season, especially seeing a few of these teams with these read-option, pistol-style quarterbacks,” Matthews said.
The Packers will know if their adjustments and personnel changes will make a difference against the read-option after those first two weeks. If they don’t, there’s a good chance the team will start 0-2.
Fortunately, they don’t face another team that plays a similar game until they get Chip Kelly’s new-look Eagles in week 10.