As soon as the Green Bay Packers announced the move to release veteran DB Charles Woodson on Friday morning, the first thought was that this defense was now Clay Matthews‘. Woodson was the unquestioned leader of the Packers defense during his tenure, and Matthews will need to step up to fill his role.
Matthews has proved that he’s an elite player on the field, but the question is can he be the leader the Packers need mentally rather than physically It may seem like both may go hand in hand, but Matthews has never really had to the be the leader of the defense.
Throughout Matthews’s career, Woodson was always there to lead the defense. While Woodson was never a “rah-rah” guy in the locker room, he was able to be the leader without ever having to get in anyone’s face. I feel Matthews will have to change that approach if he wants to be fill Woodson’s shoes.
While Woodson was out with a broken collarbone this past season, the defense seemed to play very timidly. Although the defense was able to play very well it just seemed that they lacked the spark that Woodson normally provided by just being present. Matthews will have to make sure his defensive brethren get aggressive. He’ll have to work as the motivator on defense.
Legends of the NFL always have great leadership qualities to go along with their talent. The talent portion is there in full effect for Matthews, but he’ll need to mature fast if he’s going to grow into that role. It would be wise for the Packers coaching staff to pull Matthews aside, and tell him it’s time for him to take this role. Especially with Matthews going into a contract year. He’ll want to get paid as a leader as well, and only he can make that possible.
Matthews could grow into a team leader with Aaron Rodgers, depending on how he grows into a defensive leader. Rodgers and Woodson were the guys who kept this team intact and quiet. Every problem they had was normally dealt with in house.
Hopefully GM Ted Thompson is able to put the pieces together in the secondary, but the leadership role should be fine with Matthews filling it.
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