After playing a season and a half at inside linebacker, Clay Matthews moved back outside for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. The problem though, was the move wasn’t very productive.
Certainly, injuries were a factor, but in 12 games, Matthews managed just five sacks. And down the stretch, when the Packers needed him most, Matthews just couldn’t seem to produce much of anything.
After losing to Atlanta, it’s clear the Packers need playmakers on defense. Matthews used to be one. This season, he wasn’t and maybe as a pass rusher alone, he won’t be ever again.
In 2014, playing a variety of positions, Matthews had 11 sacks. In 2015 and 2016, one season inside and one season outside, he has 11.5. He has also forced just one fumble the past two seasons, after creating 12 in his first six seasons.
The six-time Pro-Bowl selection and former First-Team All-Pro, battled a shoulder injury that definitely hampered his ability off the edge, but in truth, Matthews’ pass rush skills were in decline before that. His ability to beat tackles around the edge, just isn’t what it used to be.
However, that doesn’t mean the former first-round pick can’t still play at a high level. Green Bay just needs to consider moving him back inside to better utilize his skill sets. He’s a good tackler, he can take on blocks, he can run and he can cover. He can still rush from the outside on occasion, but he can be equally effective doing it from the interior.
Matthews is very good running the blitz and stunts inside. Better than anyone on the current roster. The truth is that neither Jake Ryan or Blake Martinez or even Joe Thomas, are nothing more than average.
The void at inside linebacker still exists and the best way to fill it, is with Matthews.