Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 8/28/12
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Nick Perry has a feeling that something special is about to happen in Green Bay this season. If Perry and fellow starting outside linebacker Clay Matthews, along with the rest of the defense, are able to perform all season the way they did in their third preseason game last week, the Packers' rookie could be onto something.Finishing with only 29 sacks last season was a significantdrop from Green Bay's Super-Bowl-winning defense in 2010 that had 47 sacks. As opposing quarterbacks were able to stay on their feet more often a year ago, it didn't keep the Packers from 15 regular-season wins, but it did contribute to allowing more passing yards than any team in NFL history.But with the majority of Green Bay's starting defense playing the entire first half last week in a preseason win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Matthews and company showed signs of what made them so dominant in 2010. There were only two sacks, but there were seven quarterback hits and three pass deflections by linebackers behind the line of scrimmage."We did all the things Thursday night that you want to do on defense," defensive coordinator Dom Capers told FOXSportsWisconsin.com.Capers specifically referenced that his defense won 12 of 13 third-and-fourth downs, won 18 of 23 first downs and only gave up two "big" plays."That's what you want it to look like," Capers said.Late last season, veteran Charles Woodson commented that he liked the way Capers allowed the defense to play a more downhill and aggressive style in a 45-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10. There were more blitzes called and more players given the ability to go make plays. Quite surprisingly, Green Bay's defense was never that bold again the rest of the season."As a defensive player, your mentality is, we want to come after people," outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said. "We want to attack. That's the mentality of defensive guys. I don't think you're going to find too many defensive guys that say we want to play soft zone, we want to just read and react, we want to play easy."The reason these guys are on defense is because they feel like they're the lions on the Serengeti and they want to hunt."It was alarming that Matthews, after falling just short of winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2010 with 13.5 sacks, fell to six sacks last season. Matthews made it a point then to mention frequently that his performance should be judged on more than just sacks, and the coaching staff agrees."I thought he had a better year, myself," Greene said. "I probably know him the best. I know his vision improved last year. His physicality improved. His awareness improved. Even though his numbers were down, people put a lot of stock in that, but he had many times where he was coming for a sack and the ball's out of the pocket."He had a fine season as far as I'm concerned."Even with a statistically worse season in 2011, Matthews' first three years in the NFL have been about as good as any player's could be. The Packers drafted Matthews 26th overall in 2009 and have watched him accumulate 29.5 sacks in that time, plus six forced fumbles and four interceptions.But Green Bay's coaching staff won't allow Matthews to become content."I don't think as an athlete you can ever say you've arrived," Greene said. "Seriously. If an athlete ever says, I'm the king of the hill,' that's the start of his downfall. I think Clay knows that. I think he knows he needs to continue to improve his craft, work on his technique and fundamental, and improve his vision."So there's always something that he is working on."One reason that Matthews didn't reach the quarterback as often last season was because the Packers didn't have another threat to pair with him. With defensive end Cullen Jenkins taking his seven sacks from 2010 and signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, Matthews drew all of the attention from opposing teams."I think an offense can basically look at one man and say we're not going to allow this guy to make a play," Greene said. "We're going to put two on him everywhere he goes and sometimes three."I've seen some people get double-teamed in my life, but I've never seen more teams and more schemes to double-team Clay. Offensive coordinators said we cannot let 52' get started. We can't let him get to the quarterback. So we've got to take him out of the game and see if anybody else can apply pressure."Though Greene wouldn't compare his outside linebacker group from this season to last's, he did add undrafted rookie Dezman Moses, who has had a terrific training camp and has become a lock to make the team. Greene also has Perry, who was the Packers' first-round pick in the draft.Perry had to make the switch from being a 4-3 defensive end in college at USC to an outside linebacker in Green Bay's 3-4 defense, but has been the starter since Day 1."I know some stuff wasn't getting done (last season)," Perry said. "That happened a long time ago. We're putting that away. There's better things to come for this year. So we're just moving ahead."Perry had a memorable moment in the Cincinnati game when he bull-rushed his way into Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to force a quick throwaway.If Perry can continue to improve and Moses' incredible rise doesn't stop, the Packers' pass rush may be on its way to getting back to its 2010 form."I like the progress we made in terms of pressuring the quarterback," Capers said. "I see some young guys that are getting better. You like when we see the potential of those guys. We know what we have with a guy like Clay and I thought B.J. (Raji) did well. But I thought our young guys did, too."You saw Nick Perry show up, you saw Dezman Moses show up, you saw Erik Walden show up, and those are all guys we're going to be counting on. The more of those guys that can produce for us rushing the passer, the better we'll be."Follow Paul Imig on Twitter
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

Mike Shula vs. Wade Phillips: The best story of Super Bowl 50

Klay Thompson's first five years in historical context

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

Report: Two people fired for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul information

USMNT are big favorites against Canada

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in the NHL playoff hunt

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

‘Actor’ Todd Gurley wants to make ‘billions’

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Johnny Manziel dropped by agent

Michael Irvin: Cowboys should save Manziel

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

The merits of trading Blake Griffin to the Hornets

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

Could the Marlins contend in 2016?

Report: Browns to cut Manziel in March

Browns rip Manziel in statement

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker