A lot will be written this morning about the Packers’ defense, and rightly so. With the offense out of sync, the Packers’ defensive performance in this game was quite possibly the difference between a win and a loss. A lot will be written about the six sacks of Colin Kaepernick and rightly so. With six against Kaepernick, the Packers defense has accumulated 13 sacks over the last two games. But I am excited about another trend that the Packers’ defense continued.
For the third week in a row, the Packers defense has held the opposing running back to under 50 yards. Those backs included Marshawn Lynch, and Jamaal Charles and yesterday afternoon Carlos Hyde had 8 carries for 20 yards 20 yards. Back in the middle of June, during all the talk of the second year players that could make an impact this year, I posted about the second year player that I was most excited about. It wasn’t Davante Adams, or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. It was Clay Matthews as a second-year inside linebacker.
Last year, when Clay Matthews was moved to the inside, the run defense immediately and permanently improved. Clay had a quiet but very successful year. I say quiet because we didn’t see the antics out of Clay that we had become accustomed to seeing. The sack celebration and the banter. Yesterday, when Clay sacked Colin Kaepernick, he stepped back into the spotlight, kissing his bicep as Kaepernick himself used to do. Wouldn’t you agree that it was a good sign.
When the Packers’ run defense destroys an opponent’s ability to run the ball…the house of cards begins to fall. Forced to throw means exposed to pressure packages and that means sacks or hurried throws. The Packers have spread the sacks around like no other team and it all starts with what the defense has thus far been able to stop…the run. Clay Matthews is coming into his own as a dominant inside presence who could show up on the edge at any time. And the Packers defense is the better for it. If we continue to stop the run, this Packers defense can continue to dominate.