Casey Matthews has been the subject of some debate here and has certainly been drawing criticism after last night's game. So I decided to do a film review focusing just on Casey to see if we're overreacting. After doing so, I actually think we may have under-reacted to his performance.... It was not pretty. Keep in mind, I'll only focus on the plays he was really involved in, so this isn't a snap by snap description of what he did last night. If there was a quick pass to the other side of the field or something, then there's really no point mentioning it.
On the first play from scrimmage Matthews was met right in the middle by the Steelers TE #85 and blocked right out of the play opening a hole for Mendenhall to get a four yard gain. Not pretty.
First and 10, read a screen well and assisted on the tackle.
2nd and 3, Steelers OT #74 pancakes him. Just grabs him and throws him to the ground. 1st down.
2nd and 10, filled a gap, doesn't get a tackle but the play went for short gain.
1st and 10 Steelers RG #66 grabs him and pushes him all the way outside the hash marks. He was held at the end of the play, but it was probably well after he could have done anything anyway. Really dominated there.
2nd and 10, got in on a tackle on a dump pass.
2nd and 1, had a shot at getting Dwyer near the line of scrimmage but didn't make the tackle. First down.
1st and 10, seemed to have Mendenhall lined up for a tackle on a broken play, but Heinz Ward nailed him in the back, knocking him to the ground and allowing the RB to get a first down.
1st and 10 engaged by #66 and pushed out of the play. There was no gain on the play though because Fokou and Chaney collapsed on the runner.
2nd and 10 was in a position to get Redman for a short gain but was pushed to the ground from behind by Pouncey allowing the RB to go for a 16 yard gain.
Very next play, he is able to get through the line but the RB runs right by him for a 5 yard game. Jamar Chaney makes tackles. (there was a penalty here)
Very next play 2nd and five, Pouncey gets a hold of him and again pushes him from the middle to outside the hashmarks allowing Mendenhall a four yard gain.
Very next play 3rd and 1 Steelers #73 gets through the line and pushes Matthews back and onto the ground. First down. Was really poor on four straight plays.
2nd and 10 Matthews sees the run, hits a gap and gets pushed right out of the play by Pouncey. Run goes for 6
1st and 10 actually gets around a blocker and hauls down Mendenhall for no gain.
1st and 10, Big Ben is out, Matthews gets in the gap and stops a run for no gain. Good play.
At this point Troy Aikman starts talking about the game isn't too big for Matthews and how the Eagles feel really good about him.
3rd and 24 there was no one lined up directly on the slot WR, so Matthews starts to cover him but lets him go, he ends up making the catch for the first down. Not sure how much you put that on Matthews, it looked like Leftwich just dropped it nicely in the zone. Joselio Hanson may have been playing too deep. I can't imagine the defense would have been designed to have the MIKE covering a WR one on one.
1st and 10 he tackles Mwelde Moore for no gain.
1st and 10 assists on a tackle where Moore loses two yards.
1st and 10 after the 3rd Vick pick, Matthews gets credited with a tackle after tapping Leftwich, who slid after a 9 yard run.
2nd and 1 Steelers' Legurski #64 gets his hands on Matthews and probably holds him... but it allows for the RB to get a firs down.
And so the first half ends. It was not pretty folks... It's true the DTs did him no favors and there were offensive lineman getting their hands on him a lot, but the fact is that you've got to shed at least some of those blocks and he really didn't. In fact, in the whole first half, I only saw one time where he literally shed a block to make a tackle. All of his other stops came on plays where he was unblocked or went around blockers.
Let's be fair here, if there were any other season, Matthews would be in OTAs 21 days after starting the offseason program. He would not be playing the Steelers... So, while I don't know that we can definitively that this guy will never be ready to be a starting LB in this league, I can say pretty definitely after watching this film that he's not ready right now.