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Let’s Talk About Clay Matthews’ Play

Has anyone seen Clay Matthews lately? You know, other than in commercials?

The supposed lynchpin, leader, chief playmaker, whatever of the Green Bay Packers defense has been MIA this season. Through six games, Matthews has only 14 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and an interception.

This comes in a season when, for the first time in his career, Matthews has a legitimate stud on the other side of the defense in the form of Julius Peppers. So, needless to say, your production should increase, not decrease.

And yet, Matthews has the lowest tackle and sack total through the first six games in his career, this season.

Even last year, when Matthews only played in four of the Packers’ first six games, he had 18 tackles and three sacks. In two fewer games! Minus Julius Peppers!

So what’s going here?

For starters, we’ve never seen Matthews play as badly as he is this year, even when he was a rookie. Not only is he not making plays, he’s making the type of idiotic mistakes you’d expect from a rookie (or Brad Jones).

Frankly, the only times we’ve noticed Clay Matthews this year is when he’s been directly responsible for giving up a long run. Matthews has no concept of outside contain, you see.

Basically, if you’re an opposing offense, just run outside the tackle to Matthews’ side of the field. Matthews will overaggressively crash into the middle and your runner will have a wide-open side of the field to run on. Easy 20 yards, at least!

Matthews’ play has been so lackluster that one of the local hacks finally asked about it yesterday. To which Buffoon gave the usual stock answer about the player grading out just fine on film.

Did you know every player grades out just fine on film under Mike McCarthy? True story.

But despite Buffoon’s insistence that he’s “comfortable” with Matthews’ play, we’re not. This clown makes over $13 million a year, on average. He’s the highest-paid outside linebacker in the NFL.

Play like it!

We’re not really here to make excuses for Mathews, but if you’re looking for a source of his ills, there are some potential culprits.

First, there’s whatever injury is bothering him now. Earlier in the season, Matthews suffered a groin injury. He played the next week, but obviously wasn’t at full strength. That doesn’t appear to be an issue anymore, but who knows?

James Jones played with broken ribs last year and no one knew. Tramon Williams has played (very poorly, it should be noted) with a substantial shoulder injury. It’s happened in the past where guys are on the field when they probably shouldn’t be.

Is it happening with Matthews? We have no idea, but we incessantly bitch about him not being able to stay healthy, so maybe he’s taken notice and decided to play through some pain.

On a side note, if you had the over on what game Matthews would suffer a hamstring pull this season, you win. The line was set at week 6.

Second, there’s the scheme itself. Buffoon promised us he was going to force Dom Capers to adapt his scheme to the personnel rather than trying to do things the other way around, this year.

The Packers have more 4-3 personnel than they do 3-4 personnel, so they’ve been running their share of 4-3. Matthews has even lined up in the middle at times. It’s entirely possible Matthews isn’t comfortable with his evolving role.

Frankly, we don’t give a shit. Go out and play ball and earn that check!

On the other hand, it could also be that Dom doesn’t quite know how to utilize Matthews best in this hybrid defense.

Of course, if that’s the case, then we’re finally sold on the Packers needing a new defensive coordinator.

Inability to adapt isn’t an acceptable excuse from either party.

Third, maybe that beard is slowing him down.

Seriously bro, you are not a lumberjack, survivalist or Brian Wilson. Groom yourself! You weren’t playing this shitty when you were clean-shaven.

Ironically, Matthews does/did have an endorsement deal with Gillette. Perhaps this is the advertising gods way of punishing him for endorsing a razor and not using one.

Clay Matthews

Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. Chad Lundberg October 14, 2014

    You forgot to mention that Clay Matthews once hid a stress fracture in his left leg, and it wasn’t even revealed until the 2011 season. He hurt his groin, which means he could be hiding the extent of the injury, or even something else entirely.

    In any case, this guy needs to pick up the slack already.

  2. john doe October 14, 2014

    I’ve been the biggest supporter of Clay Matthews, but he really needs to pick up his game. He should had sat out for at least a week from that groin injury.

  3. Shawn Neuser October 14, 2014

    The Packers played a lot of 4-3 in the first two weeks, which certainly impacted Matthews’ numbers. However, the Packers have played mostly their nickel and base 3-4 in the past four weeks, meaning Matthews has been able to line up and rush from where he normally does.

    I think it is obvious Matthews is still injured. I doubt a groin injury is something you shake off in a week. I believe Matthews is determined to not miss games, if he can avoid it, and is playing with injury. However, we have seen in the past that Matthews is not very effective when injured.

    The thing that sets Matthews apart is his agility. If he doesn’t have that, then he is just another guy.

    1. Kato October 14, 2014

      Yup. Spot on. They can actually afford to have him sit on the bench too unlike past years where the pass rush would completely disappear when he was sidelined. Perry is doing very good in a rotational role, and the Peppers has been better than expected to be honest, I just hope he doesnt wear down to much later in the year, he will be very important come playoff time if they make it. Neal has also been very solid as well. This is the most exciting pass rush to watch since 2010, at least. And I feel like this years, barring injury, is more diversified with different players bringing different pass rushing moves to the table. I remember saying back in week 1 to give Guion time to get back into game shape, and he has looked better than expected the past couple of weeks.

    2. rebelgb October 16, 2014

      Shawn has it nailed down. I have watched some tape and paid particular attention to Matthews and there is ZERO doubt in my mind he is still hindered by his groin, or possibly his hamstring again.

      In fact there were 2 particular plays where he was half hear tingly chasing a running back down-field who had already gotten by him when it almost appeared he was limping slightly.

  4. packnut October 14, 2014

    NFL now testing for HGH. Just sayin’.

  5. Howard October 14, 2014

    If you are going to discuss potential culprits and I emphasize potential then you are not discussing what some from other teams may be thinking.

    Not saying anyone has ever used HGH in the NFL. Not saying Matthews has used either but it should be a question that is discussed along with injury, scheme, beard, etc. I believe the NFL started testing for HGH in the last couple of weeks. Most players knew the testing was coming this spring or earlier.

    Hopefully Matthews gets over the injury soon. The Pack needs him to perform better. I thought Matthews was our best run stopper the last couple of years, but not this year.

  6. Savage57 October 14, 2014

    No matter what the reasons are, or the excuses or rationalizations, the only thing that matters is $13MM per year. That’s superstar money, and to be a superstar you have to be able to go every week to earn it. Every cent that goes to Matthews while he’s injured (and that’s a lot) is money that can’t go to someone else who might be on the field 100% healthy.

    He’s really good, but time has proven he’s fragile.

    1. Shawn Neuser October 14, 2014

      It is far too early to start burying a guy like Clay Matthews, who is capable of taking over games, or at least, once was.

      But these are all valid points and concerns. The Ryan Braun of the Packers? Having a similar 2014? And for similar reasons? Perhaps…

      1. Savage57 October 15, 2014

        The last thing I want to do is bury the guy. I would love to see him regain his ‘Predator’ form.

  7. Nacho dan October 14, 2014

    The beard is to cover up the herps and the “groin” injury well… Don’t worry once this flare up goes away he’ll be back to form.

  8. crash October 14, 2014

    HGH testing is obviously a factor. Clay was a USC guy, he played for Pete Carroll, a coach notorious for having players on HGH. Anyone else notice the Seahawks defense is a little slower these last few weeks? Wonder why? Seahawks have had 7 players accused of using or tested positive for PEDs in the last year. Now all the sudden they’re giving up 160 on the ground to the Cowboys? Please. Clay is obviously a gifted athlete capable of contributing to an NFL team, but he also comes from a very PED friendly environment and background. It’s very likely that he and other NFL stars have cut back or stopped using whatever they’re using and it’s effecting the production. I think you will see guys roll the dice and use PEDs occassionally, especially in contract years, but for the most part. A lot of the physically dominany players in this league will experience a drop off in production.

    Still love CM3, but it is what it is folks. Let’s just be glad that we don’t have this problem with half of our dedense, like some teams. GPG!

    1. TyKo Steamboat October 14, 2014

      HGH is a wonderful thing in moderation. It really just enhances your performance, size but most of all, recovery.

      For example, my wang was a dinky 5 inches before ingesting Deer Antler Velvet for 2 months. Now, i’m a respectable 6.5 inches & with a shiny hue to it & it photographs for snap-chat well too.

      1. Savage57 October 15, 2014

        TMI, DUDE!

      2. Dave October 15, 2014

        absolutely hilarious, ahahaha

  9. MGP October 15, 2014

    Maybe he miss Kevin Greene?

  10. Lisa October 15, 2014

    Savage-well said about CM. He needs to earn it. You also said it well about Tyko’s appendage improvement.

  11. Please October 15, 2014

    Granted, Matthews is always crashing inside and you may ask why? The answer is that he tries to make every play since our run defense has been so poor over the years. How many times in the past has Matthews crashed in and tackled the back in the center of the field for only a few yards. No, he shouldn’t being continually doing that but I’m sure he feels like he has to given our inside LB play. The opposing offenses are taking advantage of his aggressiveness and he definitely has to correct it but the Packers continue to play with JV inside LBers and the rest of the team has had to make up the obvious deficiencies over the past 4 years.

  12. Packer Bob October 15, 2014

    Now you’re criticizing Matthews? Clay Matthews? Really? REALLY?!!


    This site is awesomely bad on so many levels. There should be a Razzies award for sports blogs.

  13. Green Beans October 15, 2014

    Brad Jones new name = Canada. That’s where he should be playing football.