The Green Bay Packers have spent a good chunk of the offseason working on defending the read option after they ended the 2012 season by watching quarterback Colin Kaepernick run wild in the San Francisco 49ers' playoff win.
The Packers open this season with a rematch of that playoff debacle (in which Kaepernick rushed, mostly untouched, for an NFL-quarterback record 181 yards) and follow it with a matchup against Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.
"One of the things that the referees have told us is that when these quarterbacks carry out the fakes, they lose their right as a quarterback, a pocket-passing quarterback, the protection of a quarterback," Matthews said Monday on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike." "So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they're too important to their offense.
"If that means they pull them out of that type of offense and make them run a traditional, drop-back, pocket-style offense, I think that's exactly what we're going for. So you want to put hits as early and often on the quarterback and make them uncomfortable."
Of course, hitting the quarterback requires catching the quarterback.
"I can tell you right now, we started from Day 1 in OTAs when we came back in the offseason working on this read-option, pistol, fake offense for lack of a better term," Matthews said. "We've been working on it, especially after what we saw last year in the playoffs specifically and then opening up the season with two of these quarterbacks. We're ready. We feel good about it."
The Packers are an overwhelming favorite to win the NFC North and make a deep run in the playoffs -- of note: None of their division opponents feature quarterbacks who run the read option. To win the conference, the Packers' defense will need to be better. Given Around The League's Super Bowl predictions, we have faith that defensive coordinator Dom Capers made the adjustments necessary during the offseason to defend the read option.