Clay Matthews, Rotating Linebacker, Returns in 2017
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy gave a great deal of insight this week at NFL Coaches Meeting. These are the first insights into what might happen with the 2017 NFL season. We talked about the offensive line yesterday, and today, it’s the linebacker position. Most specifically, Clay Matthews, who appears to be done playing just outside linebacker and back to a rover linebacker position where he excelled in during the 2015 season.
#Packers coach Mike McCarthy once again reiterated Clay Matthews "will move around" the field. Not just lining up at one spot.
— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) March 29, 2017
Last year after Blake Martinez suffered an injury, I wrote about how Matthews should move back to inside linebacker. This never happened for Packers. The team worked on solves to figure out how to deal without having much of a defense especially on the inside during their ‘Run The Table’ march to the NFC Championship. Matthews disappeared too often in games to really think of him as a factor. He had a career-low in sacks and made limited impact for this team. Pro Football Focus rated him the worst player in Packers front seven last season.
McCarthy calling for Matthews to be moving around again is a welcomed sight. My guess is Matthews and the team had a ‘coming to Jesus’ moment about him not being the same type of player he once was years ago. McCarthy and Dom Capers know that Matthews is the most effective if they use him interchangeability on defense versus just on the outside. A full offseason with the once-great linebacker learning both positions could be extordinary for the team, and it might be something that will save his career. With Davante Adams, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and oh yeah, Aaron Rodgers, all needing new contracts, this might be a do-or-die year for the former first round draft pick.
We’ll see how Matthews responds to moving back to a linebacker, not just an edge rusher.