Packers' Clay Matthews weighs in after NFL clarifies QB hits

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Packers' Clay Matthews weighs in after NFL clarifies QB hits

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — An NFL statement intended to clarify to officials the emphasis on quarterback hits may have raised questions with Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

NFL football operations chief Troy Vincent said Thursday that the powerful competition committee had clarified to game officials the techniques used in such hits. A lack of consistency on such calls also has been a source of contention throughout the league.

Matthews has been called for a roughing-the-passer call in each of the Packers' first three games. Two of the hits appeared to be normal tackles.

"I don't know if that statement really expresses how they're going to call it moving forward," Matthews said after practice on Thursday.

"Furthermore after seeing the video, too, all hits on the quarterback that came from straight on, which is what they teach you since Pee Wee football with running backs, receivers or whatever is to approach them head-on if you can — those were all illegal hits, much like the two hits I had on (Vikings quarterback Kirk) Cousins and (Redskins quarterback Alex) Smith last week, which were conveniently left out of the video."

The NFL released a video online that showed flagged and legal hits, though it was not clear if Matthews was talking about the same video.

"All of the acceptable hits which were legal came from off the edge or quarterbacks that were trying to fight out of a sack," Matthews said. "If they continue to call it like that, I think there's going to be more penalties, players are obviously going to be upset, coaches are going to continue to not know how to coach it and fans will continue to be upset by the fact that the NFL can't seem to get out of its own way."

Matthews had a conversation with team president Mark Murphy, who is on the competition committee, after the committee's latest meeting. Asked if Murphy had any advice, Matthews said "No, no . I think it was more so, just continue to play in the way I which I have.

"I think they were just trying to get some clarity on how ... besides the hits, I think there's been a lot of inconsistency with how it's been called with different crews out there," Matthews said. "I think that was maybe to clear it up, for officiating, but I'm not sure how it was being called before."

Still, Matthews said that a slight adjustment might need to be made that when going after a quarterback head-on, that he might have to "pick a side, maybe go after the ball. Those are going to be the tough ones."

The linebacker added: "Physics would say when you're coming from straight-on, you can't hit somebody with just your shoulder, wrap up with your arms. I mean, that's the way you play football, and I think that's what fans want to see. So I get it. As I continue to say, they're trying to protect the quarterbacks."

Matthews said it's also difficult to officiate intent though it's something that the linebacker would like to see. He indicated he did not intend to put his full body weight on the quarterback on at least two of his hits.

While Matthews has expressed frustration with the calls over the past few weeks, he did allow for moments of levity in front of his locker on Thursday.

"There's a big difference between falling on a guy and driving a guy on the ground, and I think that would allow the officiating to be much cleaner," Matthews said. "But maybe they can make room and put one more guy on the competition committee. Me."

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