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Moving Clay Matthews back to OLB exclusively is a huge mistake!

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  Moving Clay Matthews back to OLB exclusively is a huge mistake!

Posted: May 18, 2016, 11:13 AM Post
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One of the biggest offseason stories is how the defense is going to be so much better with Clay Matthews back at OLB. And getting his QB pressures and sacks back to his numbers prior to his ILB conversion.

Personally, I think this is a huge mistake.

1) Clay's runs support:
One weak spot in Clay's game is supporting the run from the outside. In 2013 and early 2014, it was a common occurrence to see Clay guess on which gap the RB was going to run when the play came at him. Often, the LT could run him so far upfield when he did this, the RB had a huge gap to run into. Even when Clay held his ground, he was poor at disengaging from the LT to get at the RB. IMO, part of the 2014 improvement was moving Clay to MLB, improving the MLB play. But part of it was moving Clay AWAY from OLB and filling it with someone that managed the run better (Perry often).

2) Clay's health:
When Clay was exclusively at OLB, he took a huge pounding on the outside. Especially on running downs. Often engulfed by the LTs and chipped by RBs/TEs, he took a beating. Early in his career, it wasn't such an issue. But as he has aged, its been harder on him. From 2012-2013, he missed 9 of 32 games due to injury. And was less than 50% most of the season.

The last two years, Clay played in every single game. And while he does still play dinged up, he was in far better health the last two years. And given his better health, I think he has been far more effective in the times he has rushed the passer. Despite rushing the passer far fewer times over the last two years, his sacks and QB hits remain about the same as previous years:
    Sacks QB hits
    2014-15 17.5 41
    2012-13 20.5 33

3) Clay at MLB:
While Clay was one of the better OLBs in the game, he was clearly in the top few MLBs. He routinely up for OLB ProBowl consideration, but a lock at MLB both years. Clay's speed makes him ideal in covering sideline to sideline and fits his style of slashing at a weak point to make a tackle or disrupt a play.

Having Clay at MLB also allows him to rush from multiple spots and give the OC fits on the other side. Most of the time, at OLB, he rushes from one spot and is easier to contain. And unlike traditional MLBs that leave the game on obviously passing plays, Clay simply slides over to a normal pass-rush point and goes from there.

While pass rush is the name of the game and the reason people want Clay back at OLB, I don't see them getting anymore. And potentially hurting their overall game by doing it. An injured Clay is an ineffective Clay. His best role is similar to how we used Charles Woodson a while back (slot CB, back at safety, move him around). Put Clay out where his creativity and natural playmaking ability are maximized. Put him out away from the big LTs that beat him around and wear him down. Move him around so the OCs from the other team can't game plan around him.

His best role on this team is the one that maximizes his speed, creativity and play making ability: Bouncing back and forth between MLB and OLB.

  Re: Moving Clay Matthews back to OLB exclusively is a huge mistake!

Posted: May 26, 2016, 9:14 PM Post
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Posts: 307
I agree. I was confused when i heard about the big push to get him exclusively back as an olb. I felt like he was a better disrupter from the inside and it gave capers a lot of room to be creative with the pass rushes.

NFL Blitz has better referees.

  Re: Moving Clay Matthews back to OLB exclusively is a huge mistake!

Posted: June 27, 2016, 11:39 AM Post
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I don't recall reading anything about him going back to OLB exclusively. Predominantly, yes; exclusively, no. I look for him to move around, especially if they get some pass rush out of Datone Jones et al from the "elephant" position.

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