Clay Matthews Dominates as Packers Defense Pounds Bears

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 13: Clay Matthews #52 and Jerel Worthy #99 of the Green Bay Packers celebrate after a sack during first half play against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on September 13, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The biggest question around Clay Matthews tremendous Week 2 performance is whether he gets credited with 3.5 sacks or 4.

Whatever the result there, Matthews undoubtedly had a huge impact on the game. Matthews spent a ton of time in Jay Cutler's face as the Packers overwhelmed the Bears offensive line. The Bears line was able to deal with the Colts for the most part, but the Packers just had far too much talent.

Matthews primarily attacked the edge and overwhelmed the tackles, especially J'Marcus Webb, who had little to no luck even slowing Matthews down.

It's hard to say if it's the switch to the right side, the added weapons in Jerel Worthy and Nick Perry, or a combination of all of the above and more. The results are easy to see though with seven sacks in two games. The pressure helped the secondary Thursday night as Cutler was never able to settle into a rhythm or react to the coverage.

Of course, it's a symbiotic relationship.

The pressure cuts down on the time the secondary has to hold coverage and forces the QB to make quick and sometimes ill-advised passes. At the same time, tight coverage in the secondary makes it easier for the front seven to get at the quarterback. The longer he has to hold the ball, the greater the chance of a sack or quarterback hit.

This is how the defense needs to function. Really, the defense wasn't as bad as they looked all last season or last week. However it remains to be seen if they are as good as they looked Thursday.

The offense is still misfiring a bit, save in the backfield. The team seemed determined to try and give Cedric Benson a decent amount of carries—a wise strategy since the more carries he gets, the more effective he is. At some points, Benson was the only thing working in this offense.

Several receivers, Jermichael Finley being chief among them, dropped sure catches. If the Bears had been able to get their offense going, this could have been a real problem. Normally, if you let a team hang around it will hurt you. In this case, any issues the Packers had were overshadowed by the utter debacle that was the Bears offense.

However, the Packers face the next few weeks knowing they have to get the passing offense going. It's not just missing Greg Jennings, it's the inconsistent play of James Jones, the sometimes ill-conceived passes into heavy coverage, the pressure on the quarterback.

The Packers offense has been so productive that it's expected they will just bounce back. A few more slow or bad games and the reality may sink in that this offense has lost something.

Thursday though, it was all about the defense and Clay Matthews. The belief is that the offense will snap back—and if that happens and the defense stays effective, the Packers just got very dangerous.

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