Packers 2016 Recap: LB Clay Matthews

2016 Stats

  • Played in 12 games
  • 24 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
  • Pro Football Focus: 43.6/100 (96 out of 109 qualified edge defenders)

Expectations going into the season: High
Expectations were: Not met

Analysis: A challenging year for the star linebacker

It had to have been extremely frustrating to be Clay Matthews in 2016.

After a year and a half of playing out of position at inside linebacker, Matthews finally returned this season to do what he does best: rush the passer. Training camp began amidst a gigantic distraction.

An Al Jazeera America documentary that claimed the linebacker used performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). 

Along with Julius Peppers, former teammate Mike Neal and Steelers linebacker James Harrison, the four were given a deadline of August 25th by the NFL to meet with the league or face an indefinite suspension. Matthews met with investigators, and the NFL cleared him of any wrongdoing.

A hamstring injury kept Matthews sidelined for four games, and then a separated shoulder late in the season limited his effectiveness. 

Clay Matthews makes plays for the Packers on defense. The outgoing, quarterback-sacking pass rusher just didn’t look like his old self.

Matthews admitted in October playing outside linebacker was more taxing on his body, and it showed in two season-changing injuries for the Packers.

A hamstring injury kept Matthews out of the lineup for most of the Packers losing streak in the middle of the season. When he returned, it looked like Matthews had lost a step.

In a late November game against the Eagles, Carson Wentz rolled to his right and was chased out of the pocket by Clay Matthews. Wentz (4.77 40-yard dash) was able to outrun Matthews (4.67 40-yard dash) and scrambled for a first down on the play.

Later, a blind side hit by offensive lineman Allen Barbre injured the linebacker’s shoulder.

Whether or not you thought the hit by Barbre was cheap or not, the talented pass rusher struggled through a separated shoulder. Over the next three games, Matthews played a combined 82 snaps.

Matthews had enough of watching his defense struggle with him on the sidelines. Instead of sitting out and letting his shoulder heal, he played through the pain. 

On Christmas Eve, Matthews had a strip-sack of Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford that set up a Packers touchdown in the second quarter. It was a great reminder that the Matthews who made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks still existed.