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Another new spot for Clay Matthews

GREEN BAY, Wis. – If Dom Capers keeps this up, it's going to become nearly impossible to come up with a label for the position that Clay Matthews plays on the Green Bay Packers' defense.

As it was in Sunday's win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Matthews played three different spots, one of which doesn't exactly have a name.

A week after he debuted at inside linebacker against the Chicago Bears, Matthews once again played the majority of his snaps there against the Eagles. He hardly ever played his old outside linebacker spot, instead playing another new position in which he lined up outside of the outside linebacker at times on either side of the line of scrimmage.

Here's how Matthews' 57 snaps broke down:

  • Inside linebacker: 37 snaps

  • Outside linebacker: 4

  • Outside of the outside linebacker: 16

Capers described the position with Matthews lined up to the right or left of a five-man defensive line like this: "He's basically the dime in that defense, but he's a big dime. It's a different look when we do it with him."

A typical dime package features six defensive backs. In this case, Matthews replaced the sixth defensive back, who typically would play in the slot.

Matthews recorded his second-quarter sack of Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez while in that outside-outside position, which, if Matthews rushes from that position, is equivalent to a wide-9 technique that some teams use with their defensive ends to get them matched up against tight ends. Matthews, who was unblocked on his sack, said that position is not much different than the traditional outside linebacker spot.

"It depends on whether I'm rushing or playing the run," Matthews said. "But much like the outside linebacker, it's a lot of the same responsibilities as far as whatever that responsibility is, but it's played very much the same."

According to coach Mike McCarthy, this was the plan all along for Matthews in Year 6 of his NFL career.

"I think we're kind of moving around our ready-list, frankly," McCarthy said Monday. "It's not like we're drawing up new things. These are concepts and schemes that we've been working on since Day 1, and the idea of moving Clay around our defense is something we talked about back in April."

But the Packers would not have moved Matthews to inside linebacker if they had someone else capable on their roster. They were hoping inside linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama would fall to them at No. 21 in the draft; they preferred Mosley over Ohio State's Ryan Shazier, who went at 15th to the Pittsburgh Steelers. When the Baltimore Ravens took Mosley at 17, the Packers' chances to acquire an impact inside linebacker were gone.

General manager Ted Thompson did well with safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with that 21st overall pick, who looks like a long-term starter, but their problems at the inside linebacker spot next to A.J. Hawk necessitated Matthews' move after Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington all got shots at the job during the first half of the season.

And Capers might not be done moving Matthews around.

"We have plenty of different ways [to use him]," Capers said. "It's just figuring out what's going to work and what's going to give them the most problems. But we've got a lot of different packages."