I loved the addition of some serious speed to the middle linebacker position. Clay can cover a ton of ground really fast. Even as an edge rusher he often runs down running plays from behind. Put him in the middle of the field and there is no place on the field that’s safe.
Did it work?
I think anyone would be hard-pressed to say it didn’t work. In all the games between the first meeting with Bears and this second meeting of the season, Clay made a single tackle in each game. In the first meeting against the Bears he didn’t make a single tackle, though he did contribute an assist. Against the Bears on Sunday night Matthews had 9 tackles… 9! Yeah, I’d say it worked.
Are the Packers losing an essential edge rush by not having Clay on the outside? Well, probably, but in those same games between the first and second meetings with the Bears Matthews only registered a single sack. So, we might not be taking as much of a step back in that department as one might think.
Will this be a permanent position for Clay? Well, the Packers no longer have the element of surprise with the move. Let’s face it, the Eagles (and everyone else in the league) now know they have to account for Clay possibly being at ILB against them. On the other hand, we still have some semblance of the element of surprise at our disposal. After all, it’s more difficult for teams to prepare for the Packer defense now. They have to prepare for the fact that Matthews might be playing ILB, but they also have to scheme for the possibility that he isn’t.
I will say this. If Matthews continues to play middle linebacker, he’s going to get more comfortable with it every game, and the more comfortable Matthews gets, the more of a holy terror he will become for opposing offenses.