Packers Training Camp Countdown: 13 Days

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. With 13 sacks in 13 games, Clay Matthews has established himself as the best pass rusher in team history.

Who is the best pass rusher in Green Bay Packers history?

Clay Matthews is making a case for that lofty designation.

In four seasons, he's got 42.5 sacks. That includes a fifth-ranked 13 in 13 games last season. According to Packer Report's research, Matthews is the franchise leader with 0.73 sacks per game.

What makes Matthews a dominant player is he isn't just a pass rusher. He missed just two tackles last season. He's got four career interceptions and seven career forced fumbles. He's as relentless playing the run as he is the pass.

In position coach Kevin Greene, Matthews has the perfect mentor.

"The way Clay plays, Kevin was an emotional son of a gun and got a lot of sacks because he outworked guys and played all the way to the whistle," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "If you were going to block him, it was going to be an all-day deal and you weren't going to be able to relax because the moment you did, he was going to make a move and get off and get the quarterback."

Of course, rushing the passer is the big reason why Matthews signed a $69.77 million contract extension the week before the draft.

The only player in franchise history to be named to the Pro Bowl team in each of his first four seasons in the league, Matthews had 17 sacks in his first 20 games. That was a league record until Aldon Smith notched 18.5 in his first 20 games.

Matthews also has the team's two best postseason sack totals, led by his 3.5 during the 2010 Super Bowl season. Matthews added 3.0 sacks last postseason, matching Tony Bennett (1993), Reggie White (1996), Keith McKenzie (1997) and Aaron Kampman (2003).

It's important to note that sacks didn't become an official stat since 1982, so there is no data for Hall of Famer Willie Davis. Davis purportedly had more than 100 sacks in 10 seasons with the Packers. Going with 100 sacks, Davis would have averaged 0.72 sacks per game. An additional two sacks would have pushed Davis past Matthews for most sacks per game.

Sacks weren't counted for the first five seasons of Ezra Johnson's career, either. An account on Packers.com said Johnson had "about" 89 sacks. Going with that number, Johnson averaged 0.60 sacks per game.

Packers top 10 in sacks

listed in order of sacks per game

C. Matthews: 42.5 (10.56 per season; 0.733 per game)

T. Harris: 55.0 (11.00 per season; 0.724 per game)

R. White: 68.5 (11.42 per season; 0.721 per game)

T. Bennett: 36.0 (9.00 per season; 0.64 per game)

K. Gbaja-Biamila: 74.5 (8.28 per season; 0.60 per game)

E. Johnson: 41.5 (6.92 per season after league started counting sacks in 1982; 0.59 per game)

B. Paup: 32.5 (6.50 per season; 0.51 per game)

V. Holliday: 32.0 (6.40 per season; 0.485 per game)

A. Kampman: 54.0 (6.75 per season; 0.482 per game)

C. Jenkins: 29.0 (4.14 per season; 0.31 per game)

Note: Sean Jones ranks 13th with 24.5 sacks. He averaged 8.17 sacks per season and 0.52 sacks per game.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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