Time For Matthews To Do More Than Draw Attention

It's time for Clay Matthews to start getting to the quarterback.

Last year, Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews got off to a blazing start, registering 3 sacks in each of the teams first two games. Through two games his year, Matthews has been quiet on the sack front. Though he has gotten close to putting the quarterback on the ground more than a few times, he has been credited with one sack through eight quarters of play. (To be fair, he should have gotten at least partial credit on the sack of Cam Newton that was awarded to Desmond Bishop)

Yes, Matthews' success in 2010, when he was the runner up for Defensive Player of the Year award, has certainly gotten him more attention early on in 2010. Both the Saints and the Panthers helped their right tackles out in numerous ways when it came to dealing with Matthews. But the third year linebacker out of USC has also seen his fair share of one on one matchups - and been mostly unable to capitalize.

Most surprising, perhaps, was Matthews inability to take advantage of Carolina's undrafted rookie Byron Bell. Bell started at right tackle for the Panthers in place of the injured Jeff Otah, but looking at the tape, you would never guess that there was supposed to be a big drop off in pass protection. Matthews tried an array of moves against the rookie that didn't end up yielding much in the way of results.

Now Matthews and the Packers head down to Chicago to face the Bears and Mike Martz' beleaguered offense. Once again, the opposing teams right tackle, Gabe Carimi, will most likely not line up opposite Matthews. Instead, beyond-pedestrian Frank Omiyale will get the first crack at trying to slow down Matthews' pursuit of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. We've all read the headlines - Martz' offense is, once again, under scrutiny for the number of hits they have allowed on the quarterback. If history is any guide, Martz will change little and keep throwing the ball and keep leaving his tackles on islands to get more receivers out into pass routes.

Yes, Matthews has not practiced due to a quad injury he sustained in Carolina. But if he plays, he still needs to do to Omiyale what he did to Eagles' right tackle Winston Justice in the Packers' playoff victory in Philadelphia last year - beat him so consistently and so badly that he gets benched. There is no reason, outside of constant double teaming, that Matthews should do anything but make life miserable for Omiyale, Cutler and Martz.

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Comments (66)

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CaLIPACKfAN's picture

September 23, 2011 at 06:23 am

He did lose a lot of weight maybe that has something to do with his low production.

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MarkinMadison's picture

September 23, 2011 at 06:38 am

I'm wondering if that's a factor. Finley drops 10 lbs. and looks like he forgot how to block. CM3 drops 10 lbs. and can't deal with a 3rd string RT. Then again, I'm also starting to wonder if the difference between the #55 guy on a team and the #20 guy on a team is all that great in the NFL.

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PackerAaron's picture

September 23, 2011 at 07:24 am

Re: Finley - could not disagree more on the blocking. He's taken a big jump in my eyes when it comes to his in-line blocking.

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MarkinMadison's picture

September 23, 2011 at 09:04 am

Then I'm probably giving too much weight to the bad plays, and not paying enough to the other ones.

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Steve's picture

September 23, 2011 at 06:52 am

I thought with Cam he was afraid to go around the tackle, fearing Cam could run. He looked like he was spying and was less aggressive rushing. With Cutler, you know where he will be and you can have confidence you'll catch him out of the pocket. I would like to see where clay's sacks came last year (in pocket vs out) as well as how many times he tackled qbs for a 1 or 2 yd gain after forcing them to scramble

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Oppy's picture

September 24, 2011 at 09:28 am

This is a very well thought out post.

Deserves analysis.

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ohenry78's picture

September 24, 2011 at 09:43 am

That was my thought as well; I didn't watch Matthews on every play, but it seemed to me that once the tackle started driving him too far outside, rather than trying and dip or swim moves to continue past him, he held up so as not to lose contain. This week will be a good indication of where he is, I think.

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jeremy's picture

September 23, 2011 at 08:11 am

"Matthews has been quiet on the sack front."

This is true but how many Hurries or Pressures does he have? I don't have time to go back and count but I remember him being around the QB a lot so far this season. Even though they are not counted as an official NFL stat I think Hurries are just as important.

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PackerAaron's picture

September 23, 2011 at 08:13 am

I think I addressed the fact that he's been close on several occasions in the post. I just think to start a year with six sacks and then the next with one is notable. Not to mention if he can't beat Omiyale, something is wrong.

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FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

September 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Maybe he'll flip the script, and end the year on a tear. I'm all for that.

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wgbeethree's picture

September 23, 2011 at 09:07 am

On another forum I visit a guy does an excellent breakdown of the pass D metrics. According to that Clay has 7.5 hurries and 4 hits so far to go along with his one sack.

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jeremy's picture

September 23, 2011 at 09:55 am

Where did you find this?

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wgbeethree's picture

September 23, 2011 at 11:31 am

I truly hope this doesn't bother Aaron, Corey, or Brian as some sites dislike advocating other sites but with the Daily Links being such a big part of this site I'm hoping it's not. My apologies if it is.

Got this from the Footballs Future Packer forum. Some really knowledgable posters are and have been doing some really interesting things over there including pass D and O line metrics as well as some play diagraming. It's another great source for Packers info and along with this site the daily must check for me.

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cow42's picture

September 23, 2011 at 09:35 am

A week or 2 ago I wrote in the comment section of this blog that I thought matthews was a bit overrate... and got poo-pooed.

I went home and watched the Bills game from last year.

They CMII playing on the Packers right now is not the same guy.
After watching that game I was wondering if maybe Rodgers was Thompson's 2nd best pick... not so much anymore.

Not only did Matthews get stoned by a crappy tackle last week, he was getting stopped by Shockey one on one.

He's an above average player right now. Nothing more.

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sammer's picture

September 23, 2011 at 11:24 am

I'm hoping for more from the guy, too, but that is an INSANE thing to say. Do you even like this team?

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cow42's picture

September 23, 2011 at 11:38 am

love it.
but that doesn't blind me.
in fact, it makes me more critical because i expect more.

so I'm supposed to think matthews is better than he is just because i like the team he plays for?

that doesn't make sense.

he can be better.
he has been better.
he needs to be better.

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PackerAaron's picture

September 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

I'm with you on this one, cow42, as far as being able to be critical of the guys separate from your love for the Packers.

That said, I'm not sure I agree that Matthews is just an "above average" player right now. He's still getting the edge on guys, he's just not getting home, for whatever reason. That said, I agree that the guy we've seen the last two weeks doesn't seem to be the same one we saw early last year, hence my post. I don't see him fighting guys hands off him the way he did last year. I don't see him setting guys up with constant speed outside and then bullrushing them, ect.

Now, he was asked to do a bunch of spying and "mush rush" last week, meaning he was asked to keep contain and not let Newton out of the pocket. But you're right in that there were a bunch of snaps where Bell just straight up stoned him. That's worrying, unless of course Bell turns out to be some undrafted gem - which is actually completely possible.

My point on this post: Matthews didn't dominate Bell, who we know nothing about, the way we all thought he would. The whole football observing world knows Frank Omiyale is a total bum. If Matthews can't beat him like a rug, its time to question what the hell is going on with him.

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some guy's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:35 pm

going full speed around the edge against a QB like Newton is not always a good idea.

I'm guessing Matthews was told to try and push the tackle back and just not let Newton out of the pocket.

BTW, he did get Newton on that Key 4th down play in the 4th quarter, that could have easily been a sack and was a game changer.

Also, on Woodson's pick, Matthews was the one who forced Newton to throw off his back foot. I think we're getting worked up over nothing.

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PackerAaron's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:38 pm

Did you read the post? Or any of the comments? I'm hardly worked up. If he can't beat Frank Omiyale - something is up.

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sammer's picture

September 23, 2011 at 05:17 pm

"he can be better.
he has been better.
he needs to be better."

Agree wholeheartedly with each of those statements. And no, you're not supposed to like Matthews more because you like his team. But, as a fan and a rational human, you're also not supposed to downgrade a player of his caliber and past performance to slightly above average after two average performances.

I want him to be better, and I don't claim that he's been fantastic so far this year. But I don't believe that we should jump to the conclusion that the almost DPOY of a few months ago is now merely "above average." Maybe this kid Bell is a better player than we think he is. Maybe Clay has a hidden health issue. Maybe he's human and had a lousy game.

Hell, maybe you're right and Clay will never be the same. I sure as hell hope not. And there's absolutely no reason to make that kind of pessimistic judgement after two games.

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chuck's picture

September 23, 2011 at 12:27 pm

just hope it's not a result from the threat of HGH testing.

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PackerAaron's picture

September 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Didn't want to wildly speculate in my post - but I'd be lying if I said the thought hadn't crossed my mind.

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chuck's picture

September 23, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I think even the most blinded Packer fan, such as myself, has to have at least a little concern he's all "natural".

And all the injuries don't ease my mind either

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cow42's picture

September 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm

didn't even think of that.
that would be really bad.

go back and watch the first 2 games of last season. the dude was a non-stop violent beast. he does not have the same demeanor or suddenness.

man... this could be trouble.

no neal.
no "old" CMIII.
no collins.
old woodson.

can the "o" score 40+ per?

funny how a window (titles) that seemed so wide open a few months ago doesn't look so big anymore.

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FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

September 23, 2011 at 01:01 pm

Blasfime.

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FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

September 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm

James harrison had this bum pegged.

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FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

September 23, 2011 at 01:09 pm

Settle down turbo. Clay is done, woodson and his three turnovers are old and done, we don't have a D lineman that has contributed next to nothing since he has been here. Yeah, collins is out, charlie showed he can be TRUSTED. Jesus Fing C, it's week three we're two and 0and our D will play better, our offense will improve. Turn that frown upside down slugger.

GBP 4 LIFE

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FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

September 23, 2011 at 01:10 pm

Thats to you cow 42...

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cow42's picture

September 23, 2011 at 01:25 pm

you gotta admit that woodson looks slower (and he seems to fall down a lot), and that clay's production is seriously lacking. When I talk about neal -
I'm really speaking to the lack of an additional d-line pass rusher in the nickel (please do not give me some pie in the sky story about wynn and/or so'oto - they are just "guys").

and I'm so sick of hearing this "settle down - they're 2 and 0" crap - they're a 2 point conversion and an onside kick recovery away from 0-2. the record is hiding a ton of problems...

woodson has declined.
no consistent pressure.
poor special teams (again).
clifton grabbing and holding.
collins gone.
shields regressing.
hawk's ability to cover backs regressing.
O-coordinators catching up to capers.
jones and driver and grant adding next to nothing.

there's a lot that needs to be fixed that i'm not so sure can be fixed.

this game will show me a lot.

if there's still no pressure. if hester gets a big return or 2. if shield is two steps behind his man. if capers still hasn't found a way to cover a rb or te. if cutler starts throwing over the top of peprah.

if you see those types of things start to happen - - - - - you're looking at an 8-8 team.

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PackersRS's picture

September 23, 2011 at 01:46 pm

Let's talk about this then:

If this team goes 8-8, I never will post in here again.

If this team reaches the playoffs with ease, you do the same, deal?

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FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

September 23, 2011 at 01:52 pm

Some people aren't happy unless they are bitching, I am not one of them... Have at it.

Are there things that concern me about this team? Absolutely. But I just dont think you realize how good you have it. I unfortunately listen to a lot of seattle sports radio, I feel blessed that my team is where they are with a glowing future.

If my aunt had nuts she'd be my uncle. I got a hundred bucks that says this team finishes closer to temple wins than weight... Ten would be a push. Interested?

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FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

September 23, 2011 at 01:55 pm

Some people aren't happy unless they are bitching, I am not one of them... Have at it.

Are there things that concern me about this team? Absolutely. But I just dont think you realize how good you have it. I unfortunately listen to a lot of seattle sports radio, I feel blessed that my team is where they are with a glowing future.

Lot of ifs there bud. If my aunt had nuts she'd be my uncle. I got a hundred bucks that says this team finishes closer to twelve wins than eight... Ten would be a push. Interested?

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FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

September 23, 2011 at 01:57 pm

My bad with the double post, I was trying to edit. God damn phone.

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PackerAaron's picture

September 23, 2011 at 01:58 pm

Cow - you sound like a lot of people who were posting here early last year...and then mysteriously stopped during the playoff run. ;)

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cow42's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:05 pm

ok. ok. maybe i'm panicking. i just have a real bad vibe right now. knowing how hard it is to win back to back super bowls, i'm just not sure this team could handle going through the type of season they had to go through last year. help me out here.

is it really just me/ does everyone else here think the team is just fine/

i guess i need to start focusing on the positives.

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PackersRS's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:43 pm

"is it really just me/ does everyone else here think the team is just fine/"

No. I do think things will eventually be fine, but I'm worried a bit.

Worried to the point of 8-8? Not as long as Rodgers is the QB, Capers is the DC and we have all those playmakers.

Honestly. Rodgers really is that good. Rodgers by himself adds 4 or 5 wins to this team.

And we're still talking about THE most talented team in the league.

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Pizzadoc's picture

September 24, 2011 at 12:49 am

Why can't people capitalize the first word in a sentence? It is distracting, and seems affected.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

September 25, 2011 at 01:43 am

PizzaDick,
Nobody likes a grammar Douche, shut your Wang-Sucker and make me a pie. Throw some jalapenos on that bitch.

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fishandcrane's picture

September 23, 2011 at 02:54 pm

The Super Bowl is nearly 5 full months away-we all like our chances- even Cow.

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bassmanzim's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:00 pm

I also thought about the HGH idea. To me has looked a little slower than normal, and the 10 lb drop also could be a red flag... but then again, the defense as a whole has looked a little slow...

there is also reason to think teams are doing more to game plan for him than previous years. Especially without having to worry about Jenkins..they can put more effort into stopping CM now, instead of "who do we give extra attention too...Jenkins or Matthews" now its.."we need to stop 52"

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Bearmeat's picture

September 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Exactamungo. +1 Bass

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Jake's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:01 pm

It's tough piling up sacks when you're the only legitimate pass rusher on the team. Clay would look a lot better if Cullen Jenkins were still here or if Ted had chosen a quality outside linebacker in either of the past two drafts.

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cow42's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:08 pm

be careful. posts like that will get you yelled at... i know from experience. the defense is fine. matthews is fine. he's the exact same player he's always been, he's just doing a lot more spying and mush-rushing.

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PackerAaron's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:30 pm

I can't tell if you're making a dig at me or not with that.

Look, there's no reason to "only focus" on positives OR negatives. But if you constantly focus on the negative, you have to expect people (ie fans) to push back. Do the Packers have issues? Of course they do. Name me an NFL team that doesn't? You can't.

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JerrahJonesJr's picture

September 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm

No da Dallas Cowboys are the best team at every position in the NF of L!!

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Jake's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:12 pm

I think people should chill with the "Woodson looks older and slower" and "Clifton looks old and shitty" talk for now. These exact things were said last year, and both of them ended up having good seasons.

Clifton is old, and much like last year it takes him a bit to get in the swing of things. He made the damn pro-bowl last year, he's not dead.

People were saying the same crap about Woodson last year, "woodson is a shade of his former self, grabbing everyone because he can't cover". After the first few weeks Woodson was fine, you know why? Tramon Williams is the man who covers number one receivers, not Wood. Last week we had no Tramon, so Wood had to cover them, this is not Chuck's forte anymore. But to say Woodson is just old and sucks now is stupid. Wood is going to continue to dominate the slot and terrorizing the QB, and by mid season all this old talk will stop.

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Bigfog's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:48 pm

I predict clay gets at a minimum 2 sacks this week and a handful of other plays that make you go "wow", in a good way. And if not, I am prepared to eat some hearty crow on Monday.

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Phillthy Phill's picture

September 23, 2011 at 03:51 pm

I would honestly read a column everyday if it were Fitzcore and Cow42 debating. Honest to God.

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wgbeethree's picture

September 23, 2011 at 04:32 pm

I agree with Cow on Matthews being overrated. He came in second in the DPOY voting last year and I don't think anyone on here really believes he's the second best defender in the NFL. He's really good but there are plenty of guys who play as well as him but don't get nearly as much pub. Guys like Orakapo, Hali, Wake, and Woodley are all in the same tier as Matthews IMO. Their play on the field is every bit as worthy of ot but they don't have the pretty hair or the bloodlines so they don't make the highlights or get the hype.

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Cole's picture

September 23, 2011 at 05:45 pm

Matthews has vehemently denied the use of performance enhancers. I don't think that's what it is. Perhaps, he has a nagging injury that's hurt his explosion. If it weren't Cam back there last week I believe he would've had 2 or 3 sacks most likely and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Perhaps dropping the weight and doing the UFC training hasn't helped like he anticipated.

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norman's picture

September 23, 2011 at 07:27 pm

"Matthews has vehemently denied the use of performance enhancers. I don’t think that’s what it is. "

That's the funniest thing I've read in a long time!

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Pizzadoc's picture

September 24, 2011 at 12:59 am

Like there's an NFL player who stridently admits to using them. I love me some Clay, but anybody with a brain has some suspicions.

(P.S. If they're using it in golf, baseball and cycling for christ's sake, they're probably using it in football.)

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fishandcrane's picture

September 24, 2011 at 10:42 am

Nope- only baseballers and golfers have been able to make the connection that steroids and HGH might increase performance.

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cow42's picture

September 23, 2011 at 06:17 pm

i can't wait to see what happens this weekend. hope to god that i get to come on here and say what an idiot i was for doubting cmiii. i have my doubts, though. if clay doesn't get at least one sack... the pack doesn't win.

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MarkinMadison's picture

September 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm

I'm not jumping on the CM3/HGH speculation wagon. The fact is that in two NFL seasons he had two sets of major problems with hamstring issues. It makes sense to me that he spent time focusing on running. The other thing is that HGH is best used during the off-season, and the current test only has a detection range of about two weeks. I doubt that CM3 is living in fear of it.

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Imran's picture

September 24, 2011 at 06:54 am

You guys seem to forget Matthews only had 12 and half sacks and nearly half of them came in 2 weeks. He's not gonna get sacks like that every year. I still see him getting 10 plus this season. The lockout has hurt defense more than offense. Everything will be back on schedule by week 5 or 6. If you guys should be torching anybody the secondary should be frowned upon first. They let a rookie school them. I know we got turnovers. We had unanswered 23 points and was extremely happy to see Starks explode and our offense finally finish a game!!!!!

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bill dickson's picture

September 24, 2011 at 08:00 am

lets see were 2-0.injuries are mounting again.lets PANIC.....NOT.i think its very visible clay is not as strong as he has been.ill say it here and now,whatever he was using he not using it anymore and it shows on the field. NOW i know all u guys are not blind and most of u see it also but just cant get urself to face it..... i hope im wrong,but if it looks like a duck,quacks like a duck,then its a nfl linebacker duck......go pack

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MarkinMadison's picture

September 24, 2011 at 08:33 am

Or maybe the duck spent more time flying in the offseason than swimming. Look folks, let's not trash a guy when we have zero allegations against him. Let alone anything that looks like, uh, evidence.

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Chas Breit's picture

September 24, 2011 at 08:42 am

You mean sports fans need evidence to have an opinion? If so, you might as well close the comments section.

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MarkinMadison's picture

September 25, 2011 at 07:40 am

Big difference between having an opinion about a sport, and slandering a guy.

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CSS's picture

September 24, 2011 at 08:58 am

A sub-set of fans look at the box score and see fewer sacks, therefore he's off the juice. Can't point to a specific aspect of his game that's different from the prior year, break it down, and tell us where the difference is now that he's not 'juicing'.

Box score analysts, best conspiracy theorists ever.....

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Darrin's picture

September 24, 2011 at 10:19 am

Good lord, we're two games removed from the SB win. These guys didn't go from world champs to chumps in 7 months. Try being a Bears fan - talk about depressing. I won't question this team until the issue is decided - either they miss the playoffs, lose in the playoffs, or win it all.

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fishandcrane's picture

September 24, 2011 at 10:43 am

+ 1

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lars's picture

September 24, 2011 at 11:26 am

LAST YEAR the Packers had Cullen Jenkins and Frank Zombo on the side opposite CM3. Though, CHTV assured us Walden was a better option than Zombo, reality is a bit different, eh?;)

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PackerAaron's picture

September 24, 2011 at 02:24 pm

You mean the reality that has Zombo injured on the bench? Or do you live in an alternate universe where Zombo isn't injured and playing better than Walden?

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norman's picture

September 24, 2011 at 07:58 pm

I want to live in that universe! Are Justin Harrell and Mike Neal not injured in that universe too?

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