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It’s Draft an Inside Linebacker or Roll with Clay Matthews

Clay Matthews

A lot of people have been making a big deal out of how the Green Bay Packers are “revamping” their inside linebacker position, when they haven’t revamped anything.

Sure, they got rid of some dead weight by releasing veterans Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk, but one of those guys contributing nothing outside of boneheaded plays and the other was an afterthought by season’s end.

In order to revamp something, you have to change it on the surface.

On the surface, the Packers are rolling with the same two guys who started for them at inside linebacker to end the 2014 season — Sam Barrington and Clay Matthews.

Now, some people see that as less than ideal because OHMAGOD, CLAY MATTHEWS IS AN OUTSIDE LINEBACKER!

We’re sure Clay Matthews thinks that way. He thinks the only way he’s going to get a ton of sacks is if he plays outside. He is in love with the sack. In fact, he may very well be becoming a modern-day Mark Gastineau.

Mark Gastineau was in love with the sack. He notched a lot of them. All those sacks landing him Brigitte Nielsen. Well, those sacks and that sweet-ass mullet and porno-chic mustache.

But go ahead and run the ball straight at Mark Gastineau. You’ll gain 20 yards every time. Because Mark Gastineau is of one mind — go straight for the quarterback like a quarterback-seeking missile on every goddam play regardless of down and distance.

Because, sacks!

But Clay Matthews is going to play where the Green Bay Packers tell him to play.

Frankly, Matthews is better off lining up in multiple positions throughout the game and he’s arguably better as an inside linebacker than he is outside.

For one, he’s forced to think differently, i.e. about more than just rushing the passer. That seems to make Matthews a better overall player. There’s also plenty of evidence that suggests this is better for all parties involved.

First of all, Matthews has been a good, not great outside linebacker. Matthews’ high for sacks in a season is 13.5.

I think we can all agree that 15 sacks is a nice threshold to be considered a dominant pass rushing season. So Clay Matthews has never had a dominant pass rushing season. He’s had a couple pretty good ones — 13.5 in 2010 and 13 in 2012. None dominant.

That will get you into the Packers Hall of Fame. It won’t get you into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Then there’s last year, when Matthews played the first eight games at outside linebacker and the last eight inside.

First eight — 19 tackles, 2.5 sacks. Last eight — 42 tackles, 8.5 sacks.

Which player do you want?

Probably the same one the Packers want.

So does this mean Clay Matthews is officially an inside linebacker?

There have been hints of that, but no one on the Packers has come out and said so.

Unless the Packers can draft an Erik Kendricks, Benardrick McKinney or Stephone Anthony, then the question answers itself. They’ve done nothing to address the position in free agency and the other options on the roster are Nate Palmer and Carl Bradford, neither of which played a down for the team in 2014.

Also, both guys are converted outside linebacker, so who even knows if they CAN play the position.

As of today, Clay Matthews is one of the Packers starting inside linebackers, regardless of what anyone says or doesn’t say.

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. Dustin March 27, 2015

    Moving clay throughout the defense seems to be the most beneficial thing for our defense, but I still believe we need to address the need for inside backer in the draft. Paul Dawson reportedly improved his 40 yard dash to a 4.78 at his pro day workout today. I watched tape on all of the inside linebackers in February and I came away believing that he was the number one inside backer prospects and I tried to not let his poor combine affect my opinion, today certainly helped solidify my opinion. If dawson or perryman are on the board when we pick at 62 I’d pull the trigger.

    1. jtmax March 29, 2015

      Paul Dawson is way too slow. He won’t be draft until 4-5 ILB has been picked.

  2. Dustin March 27, 2015

    At pick 30 I’m high on Jordan Phillips, owa from UCLA, Kevin Johnson, and PJ Williams.

    1. Fritz March 27, 2015

      enough with the so. california “duds”, er, “dudes” already.

    2. jtmax March 29, 2015

      Phillips is another Justing Harell waiting to happen. He’s got injuries history. Best ILB class in a long time. Get the best ILB available in first round to fill our biggest need

  3. disposable hero March 27, 2015

    Brandon Spikes is available and way better than Bradford and Palmer…except on passing downs…

  4. billybong March 27, 2015

    he’s going to play where the Packers tell him to play…how did that work out with Raji??? Draft a guy for a position, a position he likes to play and stick with him….quit moving guys around…

    1. Savage57 March 28, 2015

      Clay’s an OLB/pass rusher who’ll play some on the inside. Play him on the inside exclusively and the Packers will lose their best defensive player.

      Packers need to draft someone that can crush. Matthews ain’t that guy.

  5. vj March 27, 2015

    We need a backer who can cover some ground if pressed to cover a TE or RB. Have Clay move outside on passing downs and insert the high draft pick in a nickel D look.

  6. Justin T March 27, 2015

    Good post. Agree with everything. Worked so well moving Clay around.

  7. May Clatthews March 27, 2015

    Only problem with Clay on the inside is that he can’t finish the game (like what happened in last year’s NFC title game – his vag hurt and he sat out during the final minutes of regulation).

  8. Fritz March 27, 2015

    maybe it was his “rag” not “vag” — if he had been on the “rag” we might have a fifth SB ring by now.

  9. jtmax March 29, 2015

    We can never have enough starting caliber linebackers. They get banged up too fast. MM vows to improve run defense so we have to draft dynamic ILB with range and clean bill of health. 2 freak athletes in McKinney and Anthony. Freakish combo of length, size, quickness and speed we need to deal with the likes of Jimmy Graham and Marshawn Lynch. Kendricks is a little undersized for NFL so not sure I would take him in first round. He won’t be able to cover all these 6’6″ TE’s or tackle Lynch. Pretty confident we can get McKinney or Anthony in first round, DT in second and corner in 3rd round.