Last season, Clay Matthews proved that he's not just a good player, but a difference maker.
In first five weeks of the season, he had 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble and 21 tackles. Some plays he made were key, including a sack of Michael Vick that guaranteed Green Bay's victory.
He's just an absolute beast.
Something seemed funny to me, however. What happened to him after the first five weeks? He seemed so explosive, so fast and so completely dominant, but then his production just suddenly dropped.
Against the Redskins, Matthews tweaked his hamstring, but that only kept him out of one game. And a hamstring injury almost never lasts all the way to the playoffs.
Somewhere in midseason he also suffered a shin injury (most likely against the Jets), that was so bad he spent almost the rest of the season sitting out of practice. So I did a little research and watched some his highlights again.
Donovan McNabb, even at the age of 34, is one of the better running quarterbacks in the NFL.
In one play, Matthews chased down McNabb with closing speed. But in Week 9 against the Minnesota Vikings, Matthews could barely even chase down 41-year-old Brett Favre who was dealing with a major foot injury.
These two plays just didn't add up. Matthews downplayed the injury as best as he could, but there was simply more to the story than that.
I don't know how bad a "shin injury" is supposed to be, but I knew this: His injury was pretty bad, but worse, it was a lingering injury that wouldn't go away until the Super Bowl.
As it turns out, Matthews recently revealed that he had a lingering stress fracture. In other words, he broke his leg and still played.
You don't have to be that smart to figure it out. Matthews is one of the most dominant players in the NFL when he's healthy, but just a really good player when he's unhealthy.
If he can play next season without such a lingering injury, then is there any doubt he'll be the prime candidate for defensive player of the year?
Keep your eyes close on this one, Packer fans. If a player like him can do what he did with an injury like that, what will he do when he plays a full season (mostly) healthy?