Can Clay Matthews Keep it Up?
Clay Matthews had 10 sacks as a rookie in 2009. Considering he’s a linebacker, that’s an incredible number for a player in his first season. From a learning curve standpoint, linebacker is one of the toughest positions to grasp when transitioning from college to the pros. The Packers obviously found their guy and knew the USC product would be the perfect fit for their system when they drafted him 26th overall last year.
If you think Matthews’ 10 sacks were impressive last season, what do you think of his six through two games this year? There’s a reason we’ve had him listed as a “must-have” in the 2010 waiver wire. Offensives have not been able to stop this guy so far in 2010. He blew by Philadelphia’s and Buffalo’s offensive fronts and tore them up for three sacks each. For those who are counting, six sacks in two games puts Matthews on pace for 48 on the year.
Obviously I realize that’s a ridiculously untouchable sack total, but it gives you some perspective on the start Matthews has jumped out to. Sacks are kind of like home runs. Coaches figure out that they need to double team certain guys and come up with ways to stop them the same way pitchers figure out what pitches to throw to hitter who are bashing the ball. However, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Matthews breaking Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record of 22.5.
Sack record or no sack record, Clay Matthews is an absolute beast. That kind of sack production from the linebacker position doesn’t lie. It’s a lot tougher to double team a linebacker than a defensive end, since it’s difficult to know where they’re going to be breaking through the line. For that reason, don’t be surprised if we have a new record-holder at the end of 2010. On the flip side, be completely astonished if teams figure out how to stop Matthews from terrorizing their quarterbacks.