When Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews sat out the team’s week 3 win over Detroit, everyone made note of the fact that he hadn’t missed a game since 2013. What they — and we — didn’t note was the obvious.
That’s the last year Matthews played outside linebacker full time.
Now, Matthews is back at outside linebacker after a year and a half filling in at inside linebacker. And now he’s missed time again…
Matthews has missed 11 games throughout his career, but none while playing on the inside. Could it possibly be the position and/or its duties that are responsible for Matthews’ injuries?
Although that seems idiotic, Matthews seemed to suggest that this week.
“Every play is a full-speed, ballistic get off, so yeah, it can wear on you,” Matthews said. “Especially with the success we’ve had in the run game, teams are going to pass it 40, 50 times a game. But each position is taxing in its own right; especially at that elephant outside linebacker position, every snap is a one-on-one battle.”
There’s some truth to that, of course.
At inside backer, Matthews had the front three to work behind. In Dom Capers’ defense, the front three are primarily responsible for taking up blockers. It’s the inside backers’ job to get to the ball and make the tackle in the running game, while that guy is most likely in coverage in the passing game.
Matthews’ primary job on the outside is to get to the passer. While he’s expected to set the edge in the run game, he usually ignores that and goes for the passer anyway.
So yes, that can perhaps be more taxing on the body.
And whatever you think about Clay Matthews — some of us feel he’s overrated, others feel he’s a great player — he does change the game. He changes the game because opposing offenses need to plan for him.
And regardless of how you view him, that’s why he’s valuable to the Packers on the field. And that’s where he needs to be.