Matthews says his brother's comments off base
Standing at his locker, Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews knew what was coming.
Yes, Matthews' switch to inside linebacker was a resounding success Sunday night against the Chicago Bears. Just one problem. His brother, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Casey Matthews, said Clay wasn't a big fan of the change.
"He did well, so you've got to assume he'll play more of it," Casey Matthews told the Philadelphia Daily News on Wednesday. "I don't think he liked too much about it. He was happy to get that sack (of Jay Cutler), but that was when he was back to outside. He likes getting after the passer, taking on the linemen. … I told him to look at it this way: He's the highest-paid inside linebacker in the league. He got a laugh out of that."
So Matthews was left Thursday to explain his brother's words. He admitted taking "some heat from a few of the guys" in the locker room. He also said "there's not much truth" to his brother's opinion.
Still, Matthews admitted he initially wasn't a huge fan of the switch.
"I think anytime there's a position change -– as I mentioned last week –- there's some hesitation, obviously, with what I was comfortable doing," Matthews said. "I think anytime you're put in position to make plays like last week, it's not only going to benefit yourself, but it's going to benefit the defense as well. Yeah, in a perfect world, I'd love to line up outside 100 percent of the time, get sacks, but we were able to do that from a different position. It worked out."
Matthews said he was surprised his brother offered his take to the media. He's usually quiet and reserved, and not a fan of reporters, Matthews said.
With the Packers hosting the Eagles this weekend, could his brother simply be stirring the pot, playing some mind games?
"No, I don't think so," Matthews said. "I don't think he's that smart. He's an inside backer, after all."
Matthews' move to inside linebacker couldn't have worked much better. He had a career high 11 tackles, along with the sack. Though, he said Thursday, he'd like to think he actually sacked Cutler twice.
The second was wiped out with a penalty after Matthews made contact with Cutler's head. Matthews said he was not fined by the league for the hit.
A lot of scouts said Matthews could have played either outside or inside linebacker in the NFL. If the Packers would have started the 6-foot-3, 252-pound linebacker inside to start with, defensive coordinator Dom Capers still feels you could have penciled him in for four Pro Bowls in his first five years.
"He's just a good all-around football player," Capers said. "If he'd been playing inside there from the first day, I think he'd have gone to the same number of Pro Bowls as he has outside."
Entering Sunday, Matthews didn't know how much success the experiment would bring. He had a full week to digest his coaches' decision, but his preparation boiled down to three practices.
"I think as a confidence level in myself, it wasn't the highest just because I had a week's worth of preparation going into the game," Matthews said. "Obviously, I've had several years of pass rushing and working at that outside linebacker position. So, obviously, you never know how that's going to turn out, especially in live action when you're not going against scout team or your defense or walk-through.
"That being said, it obviously worked out well. Everything was as planned."
Last week's success doesn't necessarily mean the move is permanent. The element of surprise has been removed. No longer is this an unscouted look. Even coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday "we'll see" which linebacker position Matthews plays against the Eagles.
Matthews said his success at inside linebacker helped him be more satisfied with the switch, but he didn't commit to the position longterm.
"You put someone in positions to make plays like that, and you come up with making those plays, you're obviously a little more warm to the idea of playing those different personnel changes," he said. "So, I mean, if I had no action the other night, I'd probably be saying, 'Hey, put me at safety or somewhere where you can figure out how I can get after the ball.' No, I think that's what we were going for. I think it worked out.
"We'll see what that means moving forward, now that it's not an unscouted look anymore. I'm sure they'll have –- much like some of our personnel early in the season –- a lot of moving around. Teams will try to combat that. Like I said, we'll see what that means moving forward."
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