Category Archives: Clay Matthews

30

January

Clay Matthews 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers, Clay Matthews headshot, Clay Matthews Packers.1) Introduction:What else can be said about Clay Matthews that hasn’t already been said?  With the departure of Charles Woodson, Matthews officially became the heart and soul of the Green Bay Packers’ defense.  Aside from Aaron Rodgers, Matthews is the one player the Packers can ill afford to lose to injury.  For the past few seasons, he has been pretty much the entire Green Bay pass rush though GM Ted Thompson selected players in the past two drafts to try and alleviate some of that pressure on the Claymaker.  Unfortunately, Matthews is also usually good for one or two injuries a season, and it’s probably his hamstring.  With a brand new contract in hand that he signed before the 2013 season, Matthews is clearly the MVP of the defense and big things were expected in 2013.

2) Profile: Clay Matthews III

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 05/14/1986 in Northridge, California
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 255
  • College: USC 12.
  • Rookie Year: 2009
  • NFL Experience: 5 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Now that he is the richest linebacker in NFL history, Matthews was expected to carry the defense on his back.  Though Thompson had brought Nick Perry in 2012 and Datone Jones this season to aid the pass rush, Matthews still was the center of the defense. Another double digit sack season and Pro Bowl appearance is in order every year for a player of his caliber and 2013 was no different.  In fact, thanks to the presence of Perry and Jones, it was expected to be an unleashed Matthews that was on the field in 2013.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Matthews had one of his best games of the season in the 26-26 tie against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 12 which was his only multiple sack game of the season. He also had two forced fumbles in the loss to the Bengals in Week 2 and had eight tackles and a sack against the 49ers in Week 1.  It was arguably Matthews who kept the Packers in position to win the season opener at San Francisco.  His biggest low-light of 2013 was his thumb which he managed to break twice during the season.  His missed Weeks 6-9 and then broke the same thumb again in Week 16, causing him to miss the regular season finale and the wild card game against the 49ers.

4

January

Cory’s Corner: Vernon Davis is a nightmare for Packers

When the weather is under 40°, Vernon Davis has four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

When the weather is under 40°, Vernon Davis has four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Packers fans have taken a beating by many folks leading up to Sunday’s playoff game.

The green and gold faction has been accused of being soft for the biblical cold that is supposed to engulf the upper Midwest like a tiny blanket that always keeps your feet freezing.

But thanks to sponsors that kicked in the final dough to mark the 320th straight sellout on Sunday while keeping the last time the Packers didn’t sell out was January 1983.

So, a blackout and empty frozen aluminum bleachers won’t be a problem.

But Vernon Davis will be.

At a chiseled 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Davis might be the most impressive looking athlete on the field Sunday. He’s a huge target that can catch, run and he regularly makes safeties and cornerbacks fold up like lawn chairs. Think of Davis as a carbon copy of Packers’ tight end Jermichael Finley, except a little more sure handed and sure headed.

In a game in which it will feel like -17° at kickoff and drop 7° three hours later, the ball will contract which will make the vertical passing game much more difficult.

Enter Davis. He is second on the team in targets and he has set career highs with touchdowns (13) and yards per reception (16.3). The eighth year tight end has shown this year he’s a favorite of Colin Kaepernick when it matters because of his 52 grabs, 38 percent of them have been made on third down.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers wants to keep this worn and weary defense off the field as much as possible. And now with Michael Crabtree back from injury and playing well, the Packers won’t have the luxury of double teaming Davis because they also have to deal with quasi tight end Anquan Boldin as the other receiver.

Which means, a linebacker will more than likely be matched up with Davis for much of the game.  Which is music to San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and Davis’ ears. He can run circles around just about any linebacker in the league — sans his own — and he can run over most defensive backs.

23

December

It’s Packers vs. Bears for the NFC North Championship

If the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday, they will be NFC North Champions.

Yes, the Packers might make the playoffs despite:

  • Playing the second half of the season without Aaron Rodgers.
  • Using four different quarterbacks.
  • Clay Matthews missing a stretch of games, then returning and playing with one thumb.
  • Randall Cobb being out most of the season.
  • Jermichael Finley almost breaking his neck.
  • Bryan Bulaga tearing his ACL in a scrimmage.
  • Andy Mulumba and MD Jennings playing prominent roles on defense.
  • Eddie Lacy missing two games early with a concussion and gimping around on a bum ankle the last couple of weeks.
  • B.J. Raji deciding to take a vacation after week eight.
  • 16 players on injured reserve (possibly with more to be added this week)
  • Marshall Newhouse still being on the team.

And that’s just all the stuff I can think of off the top of my head. It’s late at night, so I’m sure I’m missing a few things that should be on the list.

It hasn’t been pretty. Often, it’s been downright ugly and frustrating as hell. But the Packers still have a shot at the playoffs. Win and they’re in.

Welcome to the NFC North in 2013.

The 2013 Packers won’t go down as one of the best teams in franchise history, but they will go down as one of the most unique. They’ll also go down as one of the most resilient. It’s been a frustrating season, but it’s also been a whole lot of fun.

Here’s hoping the fun extends at least into Wild Card weekend.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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20

December

Packers Periscope: Week 16 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Past: I’ve mentioned notable games of the past in this series (the Ice Bowl, Aaron Rodgers dismantling of the Falcons in the 2010 divisional game), but perhaps the most important game in the last decade for the Packers was their win in Super Bowl XLV in 2010 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Not only did it cement quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ position as one of the NFL’s elite players but it also justified Ted Thompson’s 6 year “draft and develop” philosophy which brought the Packers back from a salary cap nightmare.  Fans will remember Clay Matthew’s “It is time” moment of stripping the ball away from Rashard Mendenhall which preserved a Packers 4 point lead in the 4th quarter, but perhaps the biggest defensive play came from defensive tackle Howard Green, who knocked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s pass into the arms of safety Nick Collins, who returned the ball for a touchdown and at least historically sealed away the fate of the Steelers right then (no team has gotten a interception returned for a touchdown and lost the Super Bowl).

Moving back further, the Steelers and Packers last regular season game occurred in 2009 which quickly became a shootout; Rodgers threw for an impressive 383 yards but Roethlisberger proved even more dangerous, finishing the game with an astonishing 503 yards.  It also marked the rise of Jermichael Finley, who moved from a up and coming player to a serious receiving threat, which would continue until his injury in 2010.

The Present: The Steelers have been effectively eliminated from the playoffs; the Cincinnati Bengals have run away with the AFC North and are almost definitely going to win the division this year.  Baltimore trails behind Cincinnati, but also has a shot at a wild card berth.  Pittsburgh unfortunately only is predicted to get in as a wildcard team .8% of the time according to Football Outsiders, effectively making this game more of a statement game more than anything else.  Furthermore, the Steelers have always been a very deliberate and conservative organization and the coaching staff has not been rumored to be on the hot seat, this game probably does not have much meaning to the Steelers, aside for maybe extracting some revenge against the Packers for their Super Bowl loss.

17

December

Packers Stock Report: Win and the Packers are in Edition

Packers QB Matt Flynn all fired up after learning he made it in this week’s rising category.

The Packers win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday was their best victory since winning Super Bowl XLV.

Sure, the Packers won 15 games and lit up scoreboards all over the NFL in 2011, but none of the 15 triumphs was as fulfilling as Sunday’s comeback over America’s (Most Annoying) Team.

Yes, the Packers persevered through a bunch of injuries and won a playoff game in 2012, but even the postseason win wasn’t as awesome as what happened in the Jerry Dome on Sunday.

Now that Justin “Robo Leg” Tucker connected on a 61-yard field goal that put the Packers back in control of their own destiny, the Frozen Tundra is buzzing about a possible repeat of 2010′s late-season magic. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before that happens, though.

Can the defense get it together for a full game? As the Packers offense goes, so goes the defense. If the offense sputters for more than a half, can the defense pick up the slack?

Will Dr. Pat McKenzie clear Aaron Rodgers? C’mon, Doc. Rub some dirt on the QB’s collarbone and let him play.

What’s wrong with Clay Matthews? The team’s second highest paid player can’t win a one-on-one matchup to save his life right now. He showed some burst when he rushed from the middle linebacker slot on Sunday. Perhaps that will get him going.

Who made this week’s Packers Stock report? That’s the most important question of them all. Let’s find out:

Rising

Matt Flynn
I was convinced that it was Tolzien Time at halftime on Sunday. Flynn’s release is so slow and everything he does seems to be a half-second behind where it needs to be. I thought McCarthy might give Tolzien and his stronger arm with a quicker trigger another shot after the first half debacle, but he stuck with Flynn, changed the gameplan around, and pulled out a victory.

Eddie Lacy
Lacy might not be able to run away from defenders, but he makes defenders want to run away from him with how hard and physical he runs.

12

December

Packers GM Ted Thompson is in a Slump

Maybe the shades are one way Packers GM Ted Thompson is trying to snap out of his slump

If Packers general manager Ted Thompson was a baseball player, he’d pull up his socks higher, hop over the foul line whenever he ran onto the field, put his hat on backwards, take four warm-up swings before each at-bat instead of three — anything to help change his luck and snap him out of this nasty slump.

Slumps are a combination of human ineptitude and a streak of poor luck. Good players eventually snap out of them, but every now and then, a long, nasty, confidence-killing slump can wreck a once promising career.

Thompson will snap out of the rut he’s currently in. It’s been a rough one, though, marked by a slew of injuries, questionable draft decisions and ill-timed contract extensions. Here’s who and what Thompson can blame for his slump

Himself
Thompson did nothing to upgrade the safety and backup quarterback position this offseason, both obvious positions of need. Instead of drafting a safety or dipping into free agency, Thompson stuck with his current players and the results have been dismal. It got so bad that Thompson cut Jerron McMillian last week, a fourth-round pick  a season ago.

As far as backup quarterback, I usually don’t get all wound up about that position because, in my opinion, if Rodgers goes down for an extended stretch, the Packers are screwed. Well, Rodgers went down and the Packers fell flat on their face. Where I fault Thompson here is for not recognizing just how bad B.J. Coleman and Graham Harrell were. The time to cut bait with both of them was the offseason, not training camp after all the other decent backup QBs were off the market and it was too late to draft another one.

The football Gods
I know every team deals with injuries, but what the Packers go through every season is ridiculous. It’d be easy to pick at Thompson’s recent draft classes coming up short, but it’s hard because most of the players have been injured.

Thompson has drafted 36 players since 2010. Of that group, 18 have suffered significant injuries at some point during their career. That list of 18 includes guys like Bryan Bulaga, Nick Perry, Derek Sherrod, Randall Cobb, Casey Hayward, and Jerel Worthy.

30

November

Packers Stock Report: Time to Prepare for the NFL Draft Edition

Not even a mustachioed Aaron Rodgers would have saved the Packers on Thanksgiving.

Would Aaron Rodgers even be able to save this Packers team?

The former MVP can cover up a lot of blemishes, but I don’t think even he could patch up the festering wound that is 2013 Green Bay Packers.

The Packers can’t tackle, cover the middle of the field, prevent big plays, get off the field on third down, contain the run, pass block, pass, or stop Jeremy Freaking Ross on special teams.

Yeah, I know. If Rodgers turns just one of the Lions turnovers into a touchdown and a two-score lead in the first half, the entire game changes.

But even if he did that, the Packers defense was so overmatched that I don’t think it would have mattered.

I could go on and on wondering if having Rodgers would have mattered on Thanksgiving, but it’s a pointless exercise. At this point, Packers fans are better off just preparing for the NFL draft in April.

On to the stock report:

Rising

Nobody.

Steady

Sam Shields
Shields had absolutely no chance stopping the slant to Calvin Johnson, but neither does anyone else when they’re lined up one-on-one against one of the best receivers of all time. When Johnson and Matthew Stafford challenged Shields down the field, the free-agent-to-be stood strong and even out-battled Johnson for an interception in the end zone.

Clay Matthews
We haven’t seen him dominate a game for four quarters since returning from a broken thumb, but he’s making something happen every now and then.

Josh Sitton
Kudos to Sitton for calling the Lions a bunch of names before the game. Extra kudos to Sitton for standing behind what he said after the game. I never understand why we ask athletes questions, then get mad when they either a) give an honest answer like Sitton did or b) recite some mind-numbingly boring cliche. I’ll take open and honest over boring and cliched any day.

Mason Crosby
No offense to Crosby, but I’m sick of seeing him in the rising or steady categories. When a kicker or punter ends up in one of these categories, it means there aren’t many offensive or defensive players playing well.