Bears vs. Packers: Green Bay Must Resist Urge to Fully Unleash Matthews

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 13: Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers sacks Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on September 13, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 23-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Clay Matthews is back, but the Green Bay Packers have to resist the urge to use him too much.

"What?" you cry. "Garda is off his nut!" you exclaim.

I may be insane, but that doesn't change the fact that in this case, I'm right.

Yes, the Packers need more of a pass rush; and yes, they missed Matthews terribly the last few weeks.

You need to look at the long term though.

That long term includes a nearly guaranteed playoff spot and a chance to run the table to the Super Bowl.

Which option will hurt the chances of that worse—having Matthews play only 50 percent against the Bears' slipshod offensive line and having him healthy for the playoffs, or playing him his full snaps, risking injury and not having him for the playoffs?

I'll take the first.

So should Mike McCarthy.

It's always hard to take the long view in a sport which is so focused on week-to-week results, but that is what the Packers need to do here.

The thing is: This shouldn't be scary, because they have won without him and done so with some pretty solid defensive performances. The one time this wasn't the case was against New York, but the Bears are not the Giants.

I'm not talking about benching Matthews; although, if they could do that as they did to T.J. Lang last week that would be great. No, this is about limiting his snaps, getting him in during specific portions of the game and managing his hamstring.

If the Bears have an ounce of sense, they're running Matt Forte into the ground anyway. The Packers are far weaker against the run than they are against the pass, so why play into their hands?

This is the Bears, of course, and Mike Tice's game plans haven't always made a lot of sense this season, but with a gimpy Jay Cutler and a mediocre offensive line, you'd think he would see how beneficial running the ball is.

If that's the case, Matthews, while still important, is less critical than he'd be if the Bears throw.

Let's say Tice doesn't see that, though, or decides it's too expected and he passes a lot. Having Matthews on a lower number of snaps doesn't eliminate his impact on the game.

In fact, even a limited amount of plays would draw attention away from the rest of the pass-rushers, granting them enough time to get in on Cutler. 

Sure, without Matthews it's unlikely that Cutler gets sacked seven times—that doesn't mean he won't be touched at all or that the Packers won't win the game.

It's just more important to have Matthews at 100 percent in the playoffs.


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