Though it wasn’t pretty, the Green Bay Packers defense may have sent a message to the rest of the NFL with their Week 2 win over the Chicago Bears: they are back. Well, at least their pass rush is back.
By pass rush, of course, I mean Clay Matthews. Matthews is coming off of a down year. He had just six sacks on the season last year after racking up 13.5 on his way to Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2010.
The 2011 season was one that saw Matthews hampered by injury. Nagging leg injuries slowed him down, which was a contributing factor in just how bad the Packers’ defense was last year. They had trouble getting to the quarterback and really doing much of anything defensively, outside of forcing turnovers.
That has changed quickly in 2012. Matthews already has six sacks on the year through just two games. The fact that we’ve seen him do it before is even more amazing. He’s the only player to record at least six sacks in the first two games of a season twice.
Thursday against the Bears was proof of just how dominant Matthews can be. He absolutely shredded the Bears’ offensive line, finishing the night with 3.5 sacks. He really has the ability to take over a game and we saw it on Thursday night.
After just two games, it’s very difficult to say the Packers’ defense is back. They didn’t exactly turn in the greatest showing in Week 1, especially in trying to stop the run. But Thursday’s win was a step in the right direction. If Matthews plays the season the way he has started it, the defense becomes much less of a concern.
While he may not be one of the best linebackers overall, taking pass coverage and other factors into account, there’s little doubt that Matthews is still among the biggest defensive gamebreakers in the game. It looks like he’s healthy and back into top form.
That’s a scary thought for the rest of the NFL. Just ask Jay Cutler.