Clay Matthews is the Green Bay Packers’ all-time leader in sacks with 83.5, but only 3.5 of those came in 2018. In the nine other years, he’s hard at least five sacks each season, including four seasons with double digits.
To say last season was a disappointment would be an understatement as he failed to break up a single pass and posted a career-low seven tackles for loss. However, the newest member of the Los Angeles Rams knows he’s still an effective player and can change games.
“I know I have the ability to produce like I’ve done before,” Matthews said in his introductory press conference. “Not to make excuses, but there was some change last year in the Packers organization and unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me. As far as moving forward, I know I’m a difference maker. I know I can change games and I look forward to doing that and proving that and showing to everybody here – you guys, the fans – that what you saw for these past 10 years is what you’ll get for the next two.”
Last year, the Packers hired Mike Pettine to be their defensive coordinator, which might be the change Matthews was referring to. He was asked to play inside linebacker as well as rush the passer from the outside, which he’ll likely be expected to do with the Rams, too.
He expects his role to be “fluid” and wants to help his new team however he can. whether that’s as an edge rusher or an off-ball linebacker, Matthews is confident in his ability to succeed at either spot.
“Early in my career, I was predominately an edge rusher and have had success doing that. Then you saw, kind of in the middle of my career, switching to the inside because of necessity or whatever the reason was for. I thought I excelled at both positions,” he said. “I thought when you allow me to play in space and you allow me to go play sideline-to-sideline and downhill, good things are going to happen. I expect it to be the same here. I expect my position to be fluid. I’ll have a variety of roles. I think the most important thing, and what Sean alluded to, is just pressing the quarterback, making him make bad decisions and keeping the heat and keeping the pressure on him.”
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With the Rams’ needs at both inside and outside linebacker, Matthews will fit right in at either spot depending on the situation, personnel packages and how Wade Phillips believes he can best maximize his talent.