Bay Packers' Clay Matthews stops New York Jets' Michael Vick
during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 14,
2014, in Green Bay, Wis.
GREEN BAY — No
matter how the Packers defense lines up, Clay Matthews is adamant
that his top goal is to disrupt opponents and make big plays.
It's just that
Green Bay's best pass rusher these days may not be getting as much
of a chance to do it close to the line, hovering around the same
tight end or tackle on the edge play after play.
A major wrinkle
to the Packers' defense this year includes lining up Matthews in
different spots, instead of just keeping the long-haired
linebacker rushing from one end or the other. The defense overall
has had mixed results early with Green Bay (1-1) preparing for
this weekend's game at Detroit.
trying to accomplish is the fact that we're trying to present
problems for the opponents' offense and not just lining me up in
one spot," Matthews said Wednesday. "But I think the
thing about it is you look at the personnel on the field, I think
that I'm more than capable of rushing the passer and dropping into
coverage is not what made Matthews a star. Since coming into the
league in 2009, Matthews has had 51 sacks, including his first of
2014 against the New York Jets.
His role has
changed a little this year, necessitated in part by coach Mike
McCarthy using a 4-3 look at times after years of relying on a
base 3-4 scheme.
On Sunday against
the Jets, Green Bay opened in 4-3, with Julius Peppers and Mike
Neal at the ends. With Matthews at linebacker, the Packers had
three of their top rushers on the field at the same time.
Matthews dropped back into coverage. Other times, he was lined up
in the middle, like when he rushed the quarterback from about five
yards off the line of scrimmage.
Matthews got to
Geno Smith on the play, but about a half-second before Smith got
off a perfectly-thrown pass to Eric Decker for a 29-yard touchdown
pass down the left sideline in the second quarter.
it's out of a 3-4, 4-3 look or whatever it may be, I believe I can
do it and I believe I can do it to a high level," Matthews
said. "I think I can do it all. I think over the years, I've
been known as a sack guy, but I think what's been lost in the
shuffle is the fact that I can cover, I can play in space and rush
the passer as well."
reason, the defense has had slow starts, in particular against the
Jets. New York scored on its first three drives, but Green Bay
caught up and adjusted. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said this
week the early issues were in part due to staying in one package
because of the fast pace and substitution patterns set by the
The big positive
for the Packers is that they held New York to just a field goal
for the last 40 minutes in winning 31-24.
played two games. So, I think we improved from Week 1 to Week 2 on
defense. And we're looking to get better this week," McCarthy
Matthews was usually stationed on either the left or right side of
the front. He started from the right in 2009; went to the left the
following two season; then returned to the right the next two
week said lining up Matthews in the same place each play actually
helps the offense.
"If you want
to chip him, if you want to slide to him, if you're able to
practice it all week 'Clay Matthews is over there or Clay Matthews
is over there,' it's an easier training process for the
opponent," McCarthy said. "It's just really having Clay
do the same things he's always done and just move him
RT Bryan Bulaga (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday, though
he appeared to be moving better than a week ago at practice.
McCarthy said he was "absolutely" more optimistic Bulaga
would be ready for Detroit. ... S Micah Hyde (knee) was limited
but looked to be moving fine after getting hurt last week. ...
Backup LB and special teams regular Andy Mulumba is out for the
year with a knee injury.