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Improved Packers Run Defense Has Nothing to Do with Clay Matthews

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Improved Packers Run Defense Has Nothing to Do with Clay Matthews

During his Friday appearance on Cheesehead TV's Railbird Central, former Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga clued us into a video breakdown he did for Football by Football in which he asserts the improved Packers run defense has nothing to do with the position switch by Clay Matthews to inside linebacker.

While I'm not sure I can 100 percent buy into the notion that Matthews had "nothing" to do with it, Poppinga's analysis on the stellar play of the Packers defensive line is a point well taken.

Watch here:

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RCPackerFan's picture

My opinion is that the run defense isn't just helped by moving Clay to ILB. It is also helped by getting a healthy Datone Jones, and Burnett back.

I do think 'The Move' did help the run defense more then not though. It puts Nick Perry at ROLB who is a good run defender who can set the edge better then Clay. It also allowed Clay some free space to work without being engaged with an OL to flow to the ball. I think it will help with the read option as well.

The play that is highlighted in this video I think can be viewed a few ways. Yes the DL got penetration, but what still stands out in my mind, was the Bears had 2 OL coming directly at Clay. He simply sidestepped them and ran up filled the hole and tackled Forte for a no gain. If that's not Clay I don't think any other of our ILB's make that play.

IMO, Clay makes that play where our other ILB's don't. Therefore moving Clay to ILB did impact the run defense.

Idiot Fan's picture

"If that's not Clay I don't think any other of our ILB's make that play."

Seriously. Brad Jones probably commits defensive holding on the Olineman.

lucky953's picture

I agree that Clay's nimbleness afoot separates him from our other backers. I was watching him closely in that game and he is up on his toes bouncing, able to quickly go either direction. Secondly, his relentless speed of pursuit is terrific, which is what we've lacked from our ILBs. Great defenses almost always have great pursuit from their ILBs. Urlacher had fantastic sideline to sideline closing speed. Can't argue with Brady's point that penetration and holding the point of attack is what forces RBs to stop momentum and then start up again, which buys time for the LBs to flow to the ball. It's what Lacy seems to be struggling with. He doesn't see any clear lanes, slows down to shift laterally and by the time he gets going again, they're all over him.

pooch's picture

I disagree the ol had a clear shot at clay and his quickness flew right around him and made the tackle.Not buying it Brady

Paul Ott Carruth's picture

Brady does make a good point regarding the penetration made by the interior DL. However he neglects to inform the viewer that while both run plays are inside zone runs, the flow of the play is run toward different surfaces. The first zone run in Chicago is an inside zone right. Forte hits the cutback to the left which was initially a 3 man surface (OG, OT, and TE). This has an impact on the coverage and run fit to that side. The second zone run in Green Bay is also an inside zone to the right but the cutback to the left occurs against a 2 man surface (OG and OT). Additionally, the Packers screw down Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to that side giving the Packers an unblocked run defender. While the defensive lineman did cause Forte to stall, Nick Perry also feathered the run, forcing Forte to make an additional cut which allowed Matthews to rocker step and come down hill and make the play. Point being.....this play was a no gain and would have been limited to a short gain regardless of the penetration of the defensive lineman. The Packers had 1 more guy than the Bears could block in that scenario. It's important to look "apples to apples" when comparing these things.

jh9's picture

Moving Matthews to ILB seemed to energize the whole defense, and he played a great game against the Bears.

I've criticized Capers in the past, but now I must give him credit. If the defense with Matthews at ILB continues to perform for the rest of the season at the level we saw against the Bears, the Packers will have a legitimate shot at winning another SB. The move by Capers, I believe, will then qualify to be called genius.

Man, do I hope I can call Capers a genius at the end of this season!

Bearmeat's picture

With Clay at ILB I expect 2 things:

1. The run D becomes average instead of all-time bad. (but not great either).
2. The inside passing D (TE/RB) that has killed us for years gets immediately and markedly better.

We've still got problems at DT. Raji's injury hurts - but he's sucked since 2010 anyway. Pennel is raw. Guion is meh. D Jones and Boyd are meh. That leaves Daniels, who is meh against the run too. We need some seriously good DL.

Thankful that TT (finally) upgraded the pass rush though.

Tundraboy's picture

Clearly that was the best combination of 11. Everyone did their job DL etc, because nothing works without Burnett,Jones and Perry as well. Shields as well. No brainer in hindsight so that (1) Clay could be effective rather than neutralized anyway and 2. Made our middle D exist at all because when Hawk is your number one you have no middle D as we have painfully seen.

The TKstinator's picture

"Nothing to do with it"? ....ah, no.

EVERYTHING to do with it? Again, no.

The truth is somewhere in between.

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