UnPACK the Play: Clay Matthews’ Game Changer

Posted by  Brady Augustine   in       2 years ago     100 Views     1 Comment  

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Kevin and ClayThe Packers found themselves on their heels for much of Sunday’s game against the Bears. They seemed to be playing a “bend but don’t break” kind of game. But with just under four minutes to go in the forth quarter the defense was once again giving up ground…too much ground. The Packers were up 24-16 but the Bears were driving. Great players make great plays at the right times and Clay Matthews showed it with a difference making interception. Let’s unPACK the play:


Jay Cutler feels Clay Matthews come up on his left. Expecting pressure from this side and having the strong side of his formation opposite that (on his right), Cutler anticipates a green light for a throw to his tight end Bennett in the zone that Matthews will vacate. In fact, Cutler wants to get the ball to Bennett on the way into the vacated zone to avoid a hit and so that Bennett can enter the zone with a full head of steam for a big play. Cutler knows Micah Hyde will have to peel off to cover the running back out of the backfield and that his slot and split receivers each will occupy a defender on the left so for good reason he is anticipating an opportunity…if he can get the ball out before the pressure arrives. The defender that will end up with the uneviable task of taking down Bennett is Damarious Randall, who is playing wide and deep. The underneath throw should be there.Clay Presnap

Most Dangerous Substance on Earth - Packer Offense











The setup:

As the ball is snapped, Clay Matthews takes a chop-step toward the line of scrimmage, further reinforcing the idea in Cutler’s mind that the pressure is on and he needs to get the ball out. But then Matthews drops out of it and, watching Jay’s eyes all the way to paydirt, rolls into underneath coverage with help from Randall over the top, he has no reason to go for anything but the ball. Jay, for his part, is locked into what his pre-snap read told him and is telegraphing the upcoming pass.clay 1










Clay 2











The INT:

Clay knows he’s got Randall over the top so he doesn’t need to wrap with one hand while trying to knock the ball away with the other. The result is a perfect pick for Clay that could have resulted in a return for TD just like Julius Peppers had (2) last year if the defense had done better downfield blocking. But be that as it may…it was a big play at the right time.Clay 3











What Jay missed:

Fortunately for the Packers defense in general (and Nate Palmer in particular), Jay didn’t see that Nate Palmer had followed Eddie Royal’s out route rather than take Marquess Wilson underneath. This mistake caused Shields, Hayward, and Palmer to be out in coverage against Wilson and Jeffery. So the underneath ended up open just as Cutler had anticipated, but for all the wrong reasons and Palmer almost made Matthews’ gambit a losing one as Wilson ended up wide open. Open











Conclusion: Great players make great plays

Clay Matthews once again showed that he is a great player. Not only coming from a position that is not his natural or favored position, but playing the position like a veteran and a champion. It doesn’t seem like we see too many INT’s by an inside linebacker but with Mathews playing like that, we may see more in the future. Maybe Kevin Greene was whispering “It’s time! It’s TIME!” in his ear again. However it happened, this play was a real turning point and made the 24 yard touchdown that Bennett did get later on seem a lot less significant. Especially now that we know how to field an onside kick.

Go Pack!



Brady Augustine is co-owner and content creator for www.greenbaypackernation.com. He currently resides in Tennessee and also conspires with brother, JR on www.cheesnewswire.com


  1.   January 8, 2016, 4:25 pm

    Realistically, Washington hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record all season. I may be underestimating their talent, but my opinion is that they’re the weakest playoff team of both conferences. Their offense is decent, especially if Cousins is allowed to get into a rhythm and they have serious speed at WR. Their front 4 on D is good, but their secondary is full of holes.

    If Rodgers is to get on a roll, this is the team to do it against. Our passing game has responded well late in games against much better Ds than this with no run game. I still think we’ll struggle to run the ball with a banged up O-line and Lacy’s sore ribs. I would never suggest we don’t run at all, but running on 1st and 2nd down and consecutive 1st downs has hurt us all year long. I’d like to see a 75/25 pass/run ratio – including a few runs by Rodgers.

    So my best guess is that it comes down to 5 keys:
    Consistent pressure on Cousins
    McCarthy’s play calling getting Rodgers into rhythm early with some timing routes and screens to RBs
    Not calling too many run plays which plays to the strength of Redskins’ D
    Rodgers playing well.

    I didn’t list our O-line playing well because Rodgers can overcome most of that when performing like he’s capable, and frankly, I’d prefer to see him tuck it and run to slow down the pass rush a bit. Go Pack go!

  2.   January 8, 2016, 3:12 pm

    Your dreaming if you think they are able to run the ball…….
    They don’t need bounces just a swift kick in the butt to Mc Carthy the play caller( joke)

    •   January 8, 2016, 3:42 pm

      You could be right Bill…I may be dreaming. But I think a bounce or two our way is more likely than anyone giving McCarthy a swift kick in the butt. At this point, I would be content to see some consistent individual wins that add up to an extended drive. 😀

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