Packers-Bears matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Sept. 22, 2011 @ 11:51 a.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

PFW executive editor Dan Arkush presents the third of five key matchups this week in advance of the Packers' Week Three game against the Bears at Soldier Field Sunday. 

Packers LOLB Clay Matthews vs. Bears OTs Ja'Marcus Webb and Frank Omiyale

In the Bears' three games against the Packers last season, including the NFC title game, they did a decent job keeping the relentless Matthews in check. In the Week Three game under the lights in Chicago, Matthews had only three tackles and a couple of QB hits. He did manage one of his regular-season 13½ sacks in the Week 17 finale at Lambeau Field and had half a sack to go with six tackles in the NFC championship game.

But with the Bears' leaky offensive line (league-high 11 sacks allowed) looking more beleaguered than ever after losing first-round draft pick and starting ORT Gabe Carimi indefinitely with a kneecap injury against the Saints in Week Two, Matthews poses a major threat shifting frequently near the line in pursuit of mismatches. While he's not off to nearly as hot a start as last season — he just registered his first sack last week in Carolina — Matthews has established himself as one of the most dangerous pass rushers and big-play defenders in the league. The Panthers double-teamed Matthews a little less than 50 percent of the time in last week's game, and the Bears, no doubt, will consider the same tactic this Sunday.

Carimi was doing an impressive job at right tackle before getting hurt and definitely will be missed, as the Bears struggle mightily to obtain cohesiveness in front of Jay Cutler, who was treated rather rudely last week. Replacing Carimi is Frank Omiyale, who gave up a sack last week in the fourth quarter. A starter at two different positions the past two seasons (left guard in 2009, left tackle in '10), Omiyale is a better run blocker than a pass blocker. But he has been average player at best with the Bears. Webb, a 12-game starter at right tackle in 2010, has really long arms and a massive body. He's a smart player, but he's inexperienced and particularly vulnerable on inside moves.