Call on Matthews still perplexing
Packers beat writer Ryan Wood answered questions from readers Monday, a day after Green Bay’s 29-29 tie with the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. Read the transcript at jsonline.com/packers.
Q: I am mystified about the Clay Matthews penalty. The explanation I heard after the game was that he picked him off his feet and drove him into the ground. That simply didn't happen. He hit him in stride and tackled him. That was a HUGE missed call.
A: In general, I am mystified at what is legal and illegal when contacting the quarterback in this league. Before yesterday, my understanding was a defensive player could not land with his body weight on the quarterback. If he did, the defender had to roll off the quarterback. Simply extending one arm to brace the fall was not enough. So when I saw the flag, I knew it was a tough call but (thought) I understood the rule. It looked like the body-weight penalty to me. Then referee Tony Corrente said after the game it had nothing to do with the body-weight penalty, but that Clay Matthews was called for roughing because he lifted Kirk Cousins and drove him into the ground. If you watch the replay — and I've seen it many times over -- Matthews certainly does not lift Cousins. So I'm at a loss. I have no idea what's a legal and illegal hit on the quarterback. I'm not sure anybody does at this point. It's as confusing as the catch rule ever was, and a real problem for the league.
Q: Nick Perry was invisible except for one tackle on a running play late in the game, is he injured again? He makes a lot of money for 1 tackle.
A: The Packers edge rush is what it is, which isn’t much at all. It's going to be that way probably all season. The good news is the secondary has shown it can really cover, especially when Kevin King is on the field. I'd expect the defensive backfield to only improve as the season progresses. Certainly, it's much better than the past couple years. Is it enough to overcome the lack of pass rush? That's the question, and we don't have our answer yet. But there's at least a fighting chance.
Q: How serious is Kevin King's injury?
A: Mike McCarthy didn't say much, as expected. We'll have to see if he can practice this week. Wasn't a good sign that King couldn't get back into the game yesterday. The Packers — and really any team in the NFL — are always super conservative with soft-tissue injuries. I'd expect this to be no different. The good news is Washington and Buffalo simply don't have the passing attack of the Vikings, so the Packers should have some luxury of patience.
Q: It seemed to me that the fans at Lambeau Field were making a lot of noise when the Packers’ offense was on the field. Were there really that many noisy Vikings fans at the game, or does the home crowd not understand that their noise doesn’t help the Packers’ offense?
A: Yes, there really were that many Vikings fans. I'd guess there was around 30 percent purple in the seats. When the Packers fans got loud, it was to drown out the Skol chants from Vikings fans. Other than last season, when the Vikings were one of the NFC's best teams and the Packers were without Aaron Rodgers, I'd never seen so much purple inside Lambeau Field. It was pretty stunning.
Q: I'm not thrilled with the prospect of the Packers playing for the NFC North title in Minnesota. What makes that stadium so difficult for the Pack?
A: Dome environments are always challenging for opposing teams because of the crowd noise.