22

February

Clay Matthews III Super Bowl Film Study – Tracking the Packers Predator

You may not have known it from casually watching the game or reading the stat sheet, but Clay Matthews III (CM3) was the focal point of the Super Bowl. When Matthews was on the field, both the Steelers’ and the Packers’ strategies revolved directly around Clay Matthews.

As I went back and watched the TV broadcast for the first time (I had only seen the game live previously), I decided to focus in on Matthews. All the post game talk had been about how Matthews was used by the Packers, but I was also curious about what the Steelers did to counteract the potential descriptiveness of Matthews.

I’ll discuss the Steelers’ strategy and then  move on to Dom Capers evil plan for CM3. But first, here’s a tally of what Matthews did on each play.

Matthews Tracking Summary:

16: Running plays AT CM3

4:  Running plays AWAY FROM CM3

23:   Controlled Blitzes: (comes and then pulls up – making sure Roethlisberger didn’t have an escape route to his side)

10: Real Blitzes: (CM3 coming all out after the QB)

6:  Drops in coverage

8:  Plays “I Spy” with Roethlisberger.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

The next time someone criticizes Clay Matthews for not having a sack or making any big plays in a game, remember this; one way or another, opposing teams must structure their entire game plan to account for Clay Matthews.

Some teams have taken the approach of double and triple teaming him and running their offense away from his side. The 49ers tried this, and I wrote about it in a previous Matthews Film Study of the San Francisco 49ers game.

Pittsburgh, as might be expected with Mike Tomlin and Dick Lebeau as their coaches, took the opposite approach. They decided to go right at him.  Their plan was to run at him all day with good old fashioned power football. Tight ends, fullbacks, tackles, pulling guards, you name it,  they ran them head on at Matthews all day.

On NFL Network’s Sound FX (around the 2:34 mark), Steelers running back coach Kirby Wilson says to Issac Redman about Matthews, “He doesn’t want to take on the run. He’s a pass-rush specialist… We’re going to keep pounding their ass on this play and make this guy quit eventually.”

8

February

Green Bay Packers 2010 Season Ends – What Happens Next?

The Packers will have a busy offseason.

We’ve seen how Super Bowl winners and losers both get plundered for spare parts after they win their championships.

Jonathan Vilma and Jammal Brown were lured away from the ’09 Saints. Bryant McFadden and Larry Foote left the ’08 Steelers. Anquan Boldin, Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby all eventually departed Arizona. The Packers will have to deal with eager suitors for Cullen Jenkins and James Jones, among many others.

Re-signing Jenkins should be the priority for this club in the offseason, depending on how effective they think Johnny Jolly can be. It’ll be interesting to see how much money they’re willing to give Jones, as well as how much he’ll be offered by clubs that saw his big plays against Atlanta and his big drops against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

There’s no indication that Donald Driver will hang up his cleats, but if he does (or his $5 million salary is deemed too high for a No. 3 WR) and Jones leaves, the Packers will be forced to take a receiver high in the draft.

Also on draft day, the Packers will have decisions to make on their offensive line. Chad Clifton coming back for another year would help, but the Packers will have to figure out if Bryan Bulaga can be their long-term LT. We also need to find a permanent fixture at RT if that’s the case. A dedicated return specialist might be in the mix, along with competition at kicker.

Daryn Colledge, long regarded as the weak link on the offensive line, should face fierce competition in training camp from a T.J. Lang fully recovered from wrist surgery last offseason.

The Packers will have an abundance of players in training camp, including a barbershop quartet of OLBs (Walden, Zombo, Poppinga, Jones) and a bouquet of strong safeties (Bigby, Peprah, Burnett, Smith). I’m excited to see what Frank Zombo looks like in his second season of transitioning from defensive end to OLB. Additionally, this might be the year that Thompson spends a high pick on a complement to CMIII (Casey Matthews, anyone?)

A.J. Hawk’s $10 million-for-this-year contract will need to be restructured. If a salary cap is reinstated, the Packers will be spending a ton of their money at ILB (Chillar, Barnett and Bishop all have fairly recent new contracts) and may consider trading one of them away.