GREEN BAY, Wis. – To his credit, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews took the questions in stride.
After back-to-back games without recording a tackle, Matthews likely could have conducted the interview by himself. A few inquiries about Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, a stray question about quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and then the real discussion: How has Matthews, one of the more dominant defensive players in the NFL in recent years, gone two full games without a tackle, sack or any real statistical contribution?
In games at Oakland and Arizona, Matthews was credited with a single quarterback hit and nothing else.
“Yeah, because they didn’t give me a tackle on the second play of the game [against the Cardinals],” Matthews said with a smile. “I shared it with Mike Daniels, but they took it away.
“But no, I mean, I need to find a way to be more impactful. It’s not for a lack of not being where I’m supposed to and not doing my job. It’s just playmakers have to continue to show up. You can’t have games where you have one or zero tackles despite being disruptive. All you can really do is look forward to the next game.”
Matthews played 48 of a possible 58 defensive snaps in the loss to the Cardinals. He split time between his starting spot at inside linebacker (30 snaps) and his old-school role as an edge rusher in the dime defense (18 snaps).
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers also mixed in a good dose of the “Bear” defense last Sunday, which allowed Matthews additional opportunities to rush the passer.
Born from the nickel formation, which looks like a 4-2 alignment, the “Bear” defense shifted Matthews from the middle of the field to the edge of the line of scrimmage. He lined up alongside one of the edge rushers to create a five-man front that left rookie Jake Ryan as the lone linebacker in the middle.
Though he did not find success as a rusher against left tackle Jared Veldheer, Matthews hopes these types of subtle alterations ultimately will lead to the success he is used to having.
“I think we’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop the run game and keep me involved schematically,” Matthews said. “Hopefully that’s the case. I mean, someone was joking about [the lack of tackles] with me the other day. It’s obviously a stat that you don’t like hearing, but at the same time I’ll just continue to do what I need to, but at the same time be a little more, hopefully, impactful and be around the ball.”
When asked about the lack of statistical output from Matthews, coach Mike McCarthy said he was not concerned.
For the season, Matthews ranks third on the team in tackles with 63 and ranks second in sacks with 5 ½.
“Clay Matthews is clearly our most disruptive player,” McCarthy said. “Statistics I don’t think ever always tell the full story. You look inside the statistic or the performance, so I don’t think it’s an indication of anything.”
• Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji was upgraded to probable for Sunday’s game. Raji missed last week’s loss against Arizona with a concussion.
• The Packers upgraded linebacker Mike Neal (hip) to probable.
• Cornerback Sam Shields (concussion) was downgraded to doubtful.
• Left tackle David Bakhtiari (ankle) and defensive tackle Mike Daniels (groin) remain questionable.