The Green Bay Packers had a struggling defense for the second straight year. They only allowed 21 points a game which was 11th best in the league, but the second half of the season is when the defense fell apart. The only bright spot for the Packers defense in 2012 was the play of Clay Matthews.
In the 2011 season, Matthews had his worst season of his short career. He finished with a career-low six sacks and had trouble creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. However, this might have been due to the fact that teams were constantly double teaming Matthews and letting the other defenders try and beat them. Those other players on the line had awful seasons and the Packers revamped their defense during the offseason.
Matthews returned to his normal position of right outside linebacker after spending the last two seasons on the left side. The Packers wanted Matthews to be attacking the blindside of the quarterback, while rookie Nick Perry would take over as the left outside linebacker. The thought process to this was that Perry was a stronger defender at stopping the run and most teams would be running the ball to his side and Matthews can worry more about attacking the quarterback.
Matthews responded by finishing the season with 13 sacks in just 12 games. He missed four games in the middle of the season with a hamstring injury but it didn’t slow him down when he came back. Matthews was somewhat quiet in the playoffs, but that doesn’t take away from the great season that he had in 2012.
He has only been in the league four years, but Matthews already has tallied 43 sacks and has established himself as one of the best pass rushers in the league. While the Packers try to revamp their defense for the future, the one constant they will have is that Matthews will be performing at a high level.
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