Cory's Corner: Clay Matthews Is The Guy

Clay Matthews only has seven pressures this season, which ranks him 95th among all edge rushers according to Pro Football Focus. Those are appalling numbers for a guy that has started all six games this year. Yet, you cannot judge what’s inside a guy and this is where Matthews played college ball. He will likely be playing in front of a larger contingent of people and should be even more energized from the opening kick. 

The next five games won’t just make the Packers’ season, it isthe Packers’ season. 

And Green Bay has the high-powered L.A. Rams right out of the gate. The Rams are No. 1 in the NFL in total offense, No. 4 in passing, No. 1 in rushing and are No. 4 in defensive points per game.

Oh and the Rams are 7-0. 

A trip to Los Angeles doesn’t seem like the antidote to get everything on track for a team that is still trying to find its footing. Green Bay is 0-2 on the road this year and Aaron Rodgers has been under pressure 31 percent of his dropbacks and has been sacked 19 times. Also, Rams' sack machine Aaron Donald leads the league with eight sacks. 

Those stats are why Las Vegas thinks the Packers will get beat by nine points on Sunday.

But this game will be closer than that, and it won’t be the result of pixie dust that Rodgers sprinkles all over the Coliseum just like he did in 2004 when he completed his first 23 passes for No. 7 Cal as it took on No. 1 and eventual BCS champion USC. No, this game will be decided by the Packers front seven, most notably Clay Matthews.

Jared Goff is completing 74 percent when operating out of a clean pocket; however, he’s completing 52 percent when under pressure. I have been impressed with what Goff has done the last two years but this stat really shows that it’s more of a product of Sean McVay’s intuitiveness than Goff’s playmaking. 

Now I have been one of Matthews’ biggest critics. He only has seven pressures this season, which ranks him 95th among all edge rushers according to Pro Football Focus. Those are appalling numbers for a guy that has started all six games this year. Yet, you cannot judge what’s inside a guy and this is where Matthews played college ball. He will likely be playing in front of a larger contingent of people and should be even more energized from the opening kick. 

I really think Matthews will have an eye opening game. He seems to know when the lights are on and if he gets some good tape on Sunday that will go a long way to getting something desirable in free agency. 

However, forcing Goff to make less platform throws puts even more of an emphasis on stopping Todd Gurley, who, with apologies to Patrick Mahomes, is my MVP so far. Gurley is the oil behind that offensive machine and the reason why play-action looks so effortless for Goff. 

As long as Rodgers gets the ball out quickly and doesn’t try to do too much, the Packers will remain close. If Matthews bothers Goff just enough, the Packers can tiptoe out of Southern California with a huge win. Matthews doesn’t have to sack Goff, all he has to do is make him uncomfortable and speed up the game. 

If Matthews has anything left in the tank, he’s going to show it on Sunday. And frankly, he needs to prove it. He has made plenty of head-scratching plays, most notably pulling up on receiver Pierre Garçon a couple weeks ago. Matthews doesn’t want that play to define his season by leaving a foul stain in the process.

That also means Matthews must play within himself by not getting ticketed for any 15-yard penalties. Obviously most NFL teams make you pay for big mistakes but the Rams instantly bury you with them. 

The next five opponents have a combined 23-11 record and the stretch concludes with a mammoth trip to Minneapolis that will ultimately decide the NFC North. 

While coach Mike McCarthy is clearly on the hot seat, the opening game of that demanding stretch falls on the shoulders of Matthews.

Can the 10-year pro answer?

 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (32)

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NickPerry's picture

October 27, 2018 at 06:27 am

So NOW we're hoping a guy like Matthews who's clearly not playing anywhere near his contract "Answer the Bell". Most knew this was what Matthews was going to look like this year. Putting the Packers most demanding part of the schedule on Matthews is borderline ridiculous. Maybe a few years ago, not anymore though.

There was an excellent piece on ESPN Milwaukee on just how BAD Thompson was his last 3 years in the draft. There's even a quote from a NFL Executive from another team suggesting Thompson wasn't in the same mindset the last few years which IMO was OBVIOUS. That's one reason I have ZERO faith in Murphy, zero, zip, nadda. He worked closely with Thompson day in and day out yet let him run the greatest, most unique sports franchise in sports into the ground talent wise.

Now if McCarthy ends up canned after this year will Murphy still be the one to hire a coach? If so I think the 80's are just another year or two away and the Rodgers era will pass as the biggest waste of talent in NFL history.

Ted Thompson IS THE REASON the Packers are the team they are today. If he'd had hit on even a few more picks maybe just maybe the Packers wouldn't be looking at Clay Matthews at 32 years old to answer the bell.

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Rossonero's picture

October 27, 2018 at 10:08 am

Rob Demovsky's ESPN piece nailed it. Ted bungled those last 3 drafts and it could take another 3 years to recover. McCarthy misusing players like Aaron Jones and Josh Jones only compounds the problem too.

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NickPerry's picture

October 27, 2018 at 08:35 am

Excellent point, especially the 2 players you mentioned. I'm REALLY hoping with the weather turning Aaron Jones get's on the field much much more and Josh Jones is given a chance. It's absolutely mind boggling how those 2 are used.

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dobber's picture

October 27, 2018 at 11:12 am

Does MM put defensive players on the field, or is it Pettine?

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stockholder's picture

October 27, 2018 at 08:53 am

If so I think the 80's are just another year or two away and the Rodgers era will pass.////. Yes You see it! Congratulations! Faith in Murphy? After Favre was let go, it was one of the biggest PR mistakes anyone could make. What they had was Rodgers. BUUUUUUT. They closed many a player window to groom Rodgers. NO QB is behind Rodgers!!! Repeat No QB is behind Rodgers! He won't be traded. You won't have an experienced coach. Wolf Jr. didn't stay and others left too. So there is not that feeling of Family leadership. No one can back up Rodgers at this point . Gute needs more time. Wait and see Murphy is gambling with the future of this organization again. All the committees to right the ship will drag down a player windows to get a ring. Title Town is about Winning. The #1 issue should not be replacing MM. It should be getting a replacement for Arron Rodgers. Something no one wants to think about. Waiting for another injury to happen is a poor excuse.

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The TKstinator's picture

October 27, 2018 at 02:03 pm

No experienced coach? Do we want a retread anyway?
It’s not my job to know who the next great head coach will be. I gotta believe there are currently some hotshot assistants around the league. The next McVay, for example.
Will Murphy/Gute ( however that structure works; I’m not going to pretend to understand it) be able to find him from what’s out there? Who knows? Nobody.

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Lare's picture

October 27, 2018 at 02:42 pm

I don't expect to see any significant success from the Packers as long as Mark Murphy is in charge.

As we've seen, Murphy makes his business decisions from his heart instead of his head. As such, he continues to make decisions based on his loyalty to his friends instead of what's best for the organization. Just as he waited 2-3 years too long to replace Ted Thompson he'll definitely do the same with McCarthy.

Regardless the outcome of this season, Murphy will be looking for any excuse he can find not to make changes in the Packers management and coaching ranks during the next offseason. Unfortunately that will probably mean more wasted years of Rodgers career until the Executive Board finally decides again that above average football isn't good enough in Green Bay.

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mamasboy's picture

October 27, 2018 at 09:11 pm

KICK ASS POST, Nick! I really hope you're wrong, but, in all likelihood, you're right. Last year was a clear reminder of what the 80's were like. Wasting 48 hrs. of my Sundays off work every season, thinking things will somehow be different. Isn't that the definition of insanity?

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stockholder's picture

October 27, 2018 at 08:20 am

CMIII has been hurt by the refs. Coach and contract discussions. Maybe even the fact of hurting the team in the final moments. He's getting pointed at. He's looked drunk at times. Well IT Mathews TIME! Suit up. Push your junk down. And explode! Mathews you still can bring game changing plays. People only need To Just show him some Love. He's a Packer for all -time. Win or lose , he's still are best hope.

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Rak47's picture

October 28, 2018 at 01:12 am

" CM3 has been hurt by the refs". So give him the 2-3 sacks he was called for roughing the passer on and he jumps from 95th to 89th, lol. That's soooo much better it actually makes his 12million dollar salary palatable.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 27, 2018 at 08:39 am

Clay Matthews III is an overpaid JAG. He's not going to get pressure, he's not going to concern anyone on the opposing sideline. That era of Packers football, for all but Aaron Rodgers, Tramon Williams and Mike Mccarthy, is gone.

If we generate pressure, it will be from blitz packages - so Mike Pettine. NOT Clay Matthews.

Our OLBs suck balls. This is a fact.

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dobber's picture

October 27, 2018 at 11:13 am

"If we generate pressure, it will be from blitz packages - so Mike Pettine."

Yup. This is it right here. They're going to have to take their chances on Sunday to generate big plays on D.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 27, 2018 at 09:20 am

The player with the greatest disparity between proven NFL productivity and current productivity is Nick Perry (with apologies to HHCD, who is probably 2nd).

I can only hope Perry had some nagging injury and that the bye week off gave it time to heal. I think we have enough on the DL, DB, and ILB: we need a pass rushing OLB to come through.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 27, 2018 at 10:29 am

LOL.

Not gonna happen. Perry is an overpaid never-was, rather than an overpaid has-been like CM3. Our OLBs are below replacement level players in the NFL. Good thing they are accounting for over 20m in salary this year.

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nostradanus's picture

October 27, 2018 at 09:27 am

The Packers should have moved Clay to ILB and kept him there, it would have extended his career by 5 years. Instead, some other team will do this exact thing and probably get him at a bargain price, probably a team in the NFC North.
Won’t that be fun

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Kb999's picture

October 27, 2018 at 10:54 am

Agreed. Move Clay to ILB.

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CJ Bauckham's picture

October 27, 2018 at 09:45 am

Pulling up on Pierre Garcon? If we're thinking of the same play, I wish he had pulled up. He could've shifted direction enough to make the open field tackle if he had. Instead he came in with a full head of steam and never had a chance

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Lphill's picture

October 27, 2018 at 10:22 am

A non roughing call and Crosby makes all his kicks and this is a game between a 7and 0 team against a 5 and 1 team and the spread is maybe Rams at home by 2.5 . Geoffs stats are almost identical to Rodgers stats except for interceptions, and that's Rodgers on one good leg. Rodgers will send a message .

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 27, 2018 at 10:31 am

" I really think Matthews will have an eye opening game. He seems to know when the lights are on and if he gets some good tape on Sunday that will go a long way to getting something desirable in free agency. "

First,..To know when the lights are on the stage, he must first know how to turn his own on.

Second...Is he playing for a FA deal in GB or elsewhere and if for GB, I hope he falls flat because we need to eliminate any reason to resign him,at all cost, and find a way to send Perry with him.

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The TKstinator's picture

October 28, 2018 at 08:27 am

I still sleep with a nightlight sometimes, but only till I fall asleep; because once I’m asleep and my eyes are shut I can’t see it anymore, so then I just get up and turn it off. (Which rhymes with ‘Goff’.)

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Since'61's picture

October 27, 2018 at 10:34 am

If we're depending on CM3 to carry our team then we are done. Even on his best days, which are at least 5-6 seasons ago, Matthews has never been a leader of the defense or the type of player who can take over a game and wreck an opponent's offense. He's made great plays and some big plays for the Packers but none lately, unless it been for roughing the passer and keeping our defense on the field.

The Rams OL has played very well this season and I don't expect CM3 to change that or have an impact on the game. Opposing OCs no longer game plan around him. He has become a JAG. He is still capable of making plays but not consistently and not enough to dominate an opponent.

For the Packers to have a chance in this game they will need to win the LOS on both sides of the ball. Our DL has a chance to do this but we will be weak on the edges unless Perry and Matthews have an unusually strong game for both of them.

The Rams have a serious pass rush and will present a serious challenge for our OL. Hopefully the Packers will use their ground game, preferably Aaron Jones, to keep the Rams honest on the pass rush. The quick passing game should also be utilized to mitigate the Rams pass rush.

The Rams are playing at home after 3 straight road games. The Packers need to take the ball if they win the toss and drive for a score to take the crowd out early. If the Packers get behind early in this game I don't see them coming back even with Rodgers playing well. The Packers need to play with a lead and make the Rams one dimensional to reduce Gurley's impact on the game. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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Lare's picture

October 27, 2018 at 11:17 am

McVay will be attacking the Packers weaknesses. We'll see Gurley going off tackle, on sweeps and swing passes to take advantage of our slow OLB's. If there isn't any pressure Goff will be looking for longer passes to take advantage of the Packers safeties.

I'm just hoping the Packers can make it a game by not beating themselves and also come out of it without any injuries to key players.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

October 27, 2018 at 11:03 am

"If Matthews has anything left in the tank, he’s going to show it on Sunday. And frankly, he needs to prove it."

Cory, I think Mathews has proven that the tank is empty during the last three years.

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Samson's picture

October 27, 2018 at 11:04 am

Wow!
CM3 has very few fans on this board.
The problem: --- They're all correct. --- CM3's days as an impact player ended long ago. --- He should retire & well, maybe, do a few commercials.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 27, 2018 at 11:24 am

He is funny in commercials. He is a good football player. He has a couple of years left but is not the same impact player that he used to be but is still valuable. I can see him still effect the game every now and then. Why not Sunday?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 27, 2018 at 02:59 pm

This ^^^

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Lare's picture

October 27, 2018 at 11:44 am

Probably should consider giving up softball too.

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The TKstinator's picture

October 28, 2018 at 08:29 am

Who nose if he’ll actually do that?

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Red Foreman's picture

October 27, 2018 at 01:09 pm

Mathews having an eye opening game? It would be nice if he just played with his eyes open for once.

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yooperman's picture

October 27, 2018 at 03:58 pm

Let's face the truth packer nation, CM3 hasn't been that good since the great steroid scare of 2015. Make up your own minds if he was using them before 2015 and no using them after 2015.

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Rak47's picture

October 28, 2018 at 01:31 am

To be fair I don't remember if it was 2014 & 2015 or 2015 & 2016 but Mathews actually made the Pro-bowl as an ILB. He just doesn't want to admit he is no longer good enough to play OLB at this level and thinks he's gonna get a big payday. Boy is he in for a surprise when he hits the market. Packers should have kept him inside where he actually would have helped the team instead of putting him back outside which helped nobody. That's all on the Coaching and the coaching in GB has been sketchy at best these past few years.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

October 28, 2018 at 01:51 pm

What is amazing is how the hack at ESPN changed his tune when teddie got fired, go back and read the real time reviews. That hack is not just a brown nose he is brown to the waist.

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