Matthews' Movement Depends on Perry

"We want to make sure we create targeting problems with Clay Matthews," coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. To do so and to upgrade a pass rush that sank the defense as a whole, Matthews said he'd make sure first-round pick Nick Perry gets up to speed.

The Green Bay Packers want to make Clay Matthews a bigger focal point of their defense by moving him around the formation more than ever.

To pull that off, first-round Nick Perry must be equally capable of being a man on the move.

"I'm going to get him up to speed. He'll be ready," Matthews told Packer Report after Tuesday's organized team activity.

Matthews is the Packers' premier defender, a dominant player at his best and a difference-maker even when not reflected in the stat line. After tallying 23.5 sacks in his first two seasons, Matthews was limited to six sacks last season. Sacks, however, tell only part of the story.

Among the NFL's 3-4 outside linebackers, he led the NFL with 21 quarterback hits and ranked third with 66 quarterback hurries (sacks plus hits plus 39 hurries), according to He also tied for fourth at the position with 24 run stops (defined as preventing the offense from getting 45 percent of the required yardage on first down, 60 percent and second down and 100 percent on third down).

Matthews was that productive despite being the focal point of opposing offenses. That's where the Packers are counting on Perry, not only as someone to make offenses pay a price for double-teaming Matthews but by allowing Matthews to be a man on the move.

"We want to make sure we create targeting problems with Clay Matthews," coach Mike McCarthy said after practice.

It's no secret what a strong pass rush means to a defense. Last season, with a league-worst sack rate of 4.28 percent of opposing offensive plays, the Packers fielded the worst pass defense in NFL history with almost 300 passing yards allowed per game.

Last season, while lining up mostly at left outside linebacker, Matthews generally faced the opposing right tackle. With Perry's starting point being the left side, Matthews would move to right outside linebacker, where he'd face most teams' premier pass blocker.

Matthews is up for the challenge.

"I'm not afraid of their best protector, if that's what you're asking me," Matthews said. "I'll come off the left, I'll come off the right, I'll come up the middle. Everyone can have a chance."

The idea, however, is to not have Matthews anchored at one spot.

"You know, obviously, with Nick coming in here, bringing a presence off the edge, it's only going to help us out," Matthews said. "The misnomer about the position is that we're stuck to one side. On paper, it's going to say ‘left outside linebacker' or ‘right outside linebacker.' Really, those positions are interchangeable, so the faster we can get him up to speed, the faster we can have some fun moving him around, flying around and making some plays together."

If Perry can be a difference-maker, the Packers' defense could make a quantum leap in the rankings. When the Packers won the Super Bowl, they finished fourth in the league with a sack on 7.97 percent of the offense's passing attempts. As a byproduct, the Packers led the league by a mile in opponent passer rating at 67.3.

Matthews didn't have a productive sidekick last season, with Erik Walden, Brad Jones, Frank Zombo, Vic So'oto and Jamari Lattimore combining for six sacks and 49 total pressures in 641 pass-rushing snaps. That's the same number of sacks and 17 fewer pressures in 188 more pass-rushing opportunities. Put another way, Matthews impacted the quarterback on 14.6 percent of his pass-rushing chances compared to 7.6 percent by the others.

"You look historically at 3-4 defenses and the success of outside linebackers, there's two studs coming off the edge," Matthews said. "Even in today's game, you look at Pittsburgh, the Cowboys, some of those teams, they've got some studs. He's going to help us out, especially the guys in the middle pushing the pocket back and the guys on the back end. It comes down to being a team game but there are positions that can help you more than others."

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