Clay Matthews penalized for quarterback hit — again!
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews is becoming the most infamous player of the 2018 NFL season — for all the wrong reasons.
After last week being flagged for roughing the passer on a call that cost the Packers a victory against the Minnesota Vikings, Matthews was involved in a similar play Sunday at Washington.
On this play, Matthews was given another 15 yards for — we can only assume — landing on Washington QB Alex Smith, placing his body weight on him.
But ... what is Matthews supposed to do exactly?
It wiped out a 17-yard sack and tacked on 15 yards for Washington late in the third quarter, a net difference of 32 yards. But the Packers held firm defensively and forced a Washington punt. Washington led, 28-17, in the fourth quarter.
Even Washington DE Jonathan Allen agreed: “That’s not a flag.”
This rule falls under the umbrella for the league’s new clarification for preserving quarterbacks’ health. Some have called it the “Anthony Barr Rule” for the hit the Vikings linebacker put on Matthews’ teammate, Aaron Rodgers, last season on a play on which Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone.
Some even have called the rule the “Aaron Rodgers Rule.” But it might soon be known as the “Clay Matthews Rule” — fairly or not. Remember, Matthews also was flagged in Week 1 for a hit on Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky late in the fourth quarter of Green Bay’s comeback win.
In the Vikings-Packers game, referee Tony Corrente said Matthews “lifted [Vikings QB Kirk Cousins] and drove him into the ground” on a play that should have resulted in a Packers interception as Green Bay led by eight points. Instead, the Vikings came back and tied the score in the 29-29 final.
Matthews was not fined for that play, but the NFL not only agreed with Corrente’s assessment but also included Matthews’ hit in an instructional video for what not to do as it related to the amended rule.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy defended his player — and said the team hasn’t changed its approach of how to instruct players how to hit quarterbacks.
“I’m just going to tell you this: We haven’t changed anything with the way we’re coaching our players,” McCarthy said last Wednesday. “The way we coach the fundamentals, it’s a constant, everyday deal. The conversation I had with Clay was the same way. There needs to be some clarity on it.
“But just to say this is a black-and-white, right-and-wrong [issue], I don’t agree with that. It’s irrelevant. I’ve got to coach the team to play in the game. I know the way we’re going to approach the game, we know how we’re going to rush the passer, we know how we’re going to hit the quarterback, and the way we’re teaching it is the way we’re going to do it.”