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Peter King - Clay Matthews can no longer be ignored

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by ivo610, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. ivo610

    ivo610 Cheesehead

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    It seems so ridiculous now -- or maybe it's a sign that the USC football team should actually have been the 33rd NFL franchise in the Pete Carroll years.

    But how odd is it that Clay Matthews, who is playing football with the pursuit ability of Ray Lewis, started only eight games in five years at Southern Cal?

    Matthews, Green Bay's pass-rushing outside linebacker, enters Monday night's showdown in Chicago between the twin 2-0 Bears and Packers leading the NFL with six sacks. He had three apiece against the Eagles and Bills. He's 17 away from setting the NFL single-season record. ("Come on,'' he told me from Green Bay. "It's two weeks.'') According to the redoubtable Bob McGinn's film study in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Matthews has been double-teamed on 42 percent of Packer defensive pass plays so far. And he's still killing it.

    I'm not a big fan of comparing young players to guys who've done it for years. And I don't mean that you shouldn't say, "The way Matthews chases down players reminds me of Lewis,'' or, "I see some Emmitt Smith when I watch the Heisman winner, Mark Ingram.'' I mean it's silly to say Matthews is going to turn into the next Ray Lewis in pursuit, because we need to see a much larger sample size. As Matthews says, "Come on. It's two weeks.'' I'd say, "Come on. He's playing his 19th NFL game Monday night.'' Greatness in the NFL is so much about staying power.

    But when I see the ability to beat blockers to the outside and inside, and when I see the speed in the open field, Matthews looks rare to me. Against Philadelphia in Week 1, lining up at left OLB, outside tackle Winston Justice's right shoulder, he steamed around Justice, avoided a weak attempt at a chip block by the Eagle back, and set out to chase down Kevin Kolb. He made up about eight yards on Kolb, slightly reminiscent of Lewis chasing down Tiki Barber from behind in the Super Bowl 10 years ago -- though, to be fair, Kolb was looking to throw part of the time.

    When Matthews tackled him from behind, he stripped the ball and pinned Kolb's arms to his side so the QB couldn't shield his fall; the resulting concussion led the Eagles on the strange journey to the quarterback change to Michael Vick. Against Buffalo last week, lined up on the right side this time, outside left tackle Demetrius Bell, Matthews blew past Bell, muscled into the backfield and leveled Trent Edwards for his third sack of the day.

    "The thing that's surprised everyone,'' I said to him this week, "is your closing speed.''

    "How could you know when I start eight games in a five-year tenure at USC?'' he said. "My whole career's been like that, really -- a little unknown. I didn't start 'til my senior year in high school, didn't start 'til a quarter of the way into my senior year in college. I've always been fast. I've always had that closing speed. Now that I know the defense well here, I can put that burst and the change of direction I have to good use when I go after the quarterback.''

    He said he "very much'' models his game after Lewis. "Lots of times, I'm running on fumes out there, because I have nothing left in the tank. Sometimes, if a play's 50 yards down the field, I'm still going after it. I don't care. Who knows? Maybe it comes back to you and you can get involved and make a positive play. But sometimes I get so tired I've got to come out for a play or two. I just think you've got to go all-out every single snap, because you never know when you're going to have a chance to make a play.''

    Matthews, son of 19-year NFL veteran Clay Matthews and nephew of 19-year NFL veteran Bruce Matthews, had no Division I scholarship offers coming out of high school in Southern California. He was 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds as a high school senior. "I had places like UC-Davis, Cal-San Luis Obispo interested. And maybe I was crazy, but I thought I could walk on and play at USC. With my rich family tradition, I don't know ... I just thought I was supposed to be a football player. My grandfather was, my father was, my uncle was. It was the family business. I just figured I'd be the next one in the family to do it.''

    The amazing thing was, it took some willpower for it to happen at all. He dressed his freshman year at USC, and the coaches -- including Carroll -- asked him three or four times in 2004 blowouts if he wanted to enter games in the fourth quarter. If he had, he would have been ineligible for a fifth year. Matthews figured he could make more of an impact as a bigger player down the line, so every time he was asked, he refused.

    Had he not ... who knows? Maybe he never gets a real NFL shot. And he certainly wouldn't have been a high draft choice. Anyway, it took time to mature at USC. By the time he did, he was a fifth-year senior, and he had to force his way into the lineup on a loaded front seven.

    The NFL was full of skeptics, and he lasted until the 26th pick of the 2009 draft. The Packers wanted pass rushers to fit new defensive coordinator Dom Capers' aggressive 3-4 scheme, and GM Ted Thompson liked the 6-3, 240-pound Matthews' speed.
    "I didn't even know where Green Bay was on the map when they drafted me,'' Matthews said. "To say I knew Dom Capers and his defense, I didn't. But when I got here, I saw it'd be a good fit for me. I don't like waiting for plays to develop in the 4-3, which is what you have to do on the outside. You're stuck in a box. In the 3-4, I just react quicker. It suits my skills.''

    This offseason, he finally started listening to his father, a good pass rusher (but no threat to win a sack title) in his NFL career. Clay the father is an assistant high school coach now, and the two would go out and do repetitions of spin moves and work on ways to neutralize the hands of offensive linemen. Pass rushing is lots of little things. Clay the son was hardheaded for a while about listening to his father. "Now,'' he said, "I look up to him and take his advice on a lot of things. He was pretty good.''
    Capers is moving Matthews from his starting left side to the right, and even over the middle on some snaps. He rushes and covers, and he doesn't back away from playing the run. He drops with tight ends and backs mostly, but with the very occasional wideout, too. Capers knows he can use Matthews anywhere, and that's going to be important as this season progresses, because offensive coordinators will be looking for him on every snap, trying to get a chip or a double-team on him.

    On Monday night, he knows the Bears might do with Jay Cutler what they did last week against Dallas -- make him get rid of the ball quickly so he doesn't get buried by Matthews behind a suspect offensive line. So be it, Matthews says.
    "Not much you can do if they're going to take three-step drops and just get rid of it,'' he said. "If that happens, hopefully we get some picks on the back end. We've been working together pretty well, the pressure up front and the DBs covering.''
    Six sacks in two weeks, obviously, is a ridiculous pace. There's no guarantee of anything in football, never mind the quirky way that sacks sometimes come in bunches. "Sometimes when you get sacks, the stars have to align,'' Matthews said. "There's no reason to think I can't keep it up, but if I end up this year with six sacks, you won't see a different approach. I'll still be the same player, playing the same way.''

    Clay Matthews can no longer be ignored; 10 things worth watching - Peter King - SI.com
     
  2. longtimefan

    longtimefan Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

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    not to nit pick but its very hard to read? Can you edit it with some spaces?
     
  3. FrankRizzo

    FrankRizzo Cheesehead

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  4. ivo610

    ivo610 Cheesehead

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    the link to the original page is at the bottom.

    I posted it and didnt look at it after, so I didnt see how bad it turned out on the forum, fixed it though. Sorry, for some reason reading anything on here that runs together is a pain.
     
  5. longtimefan

    longtimefan Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

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    thanks! it was a great read!
     
  6. Kitten

    Kitten Feline Cheesehead Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Nice article! Thanks for posting! "Come on, it's two weeks!" (....and 6 sacks...)!!!!! :icon_biggrin:
     
  7. Powarun

    Powarun Big Bay Blues fan

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    Well thats some nice insight why Matthews kicks *** the way he does. Didn't know that he has broken out of the double teaming so much. And the way he took down Kolb was terrifying, it was that play and when the two Jets players sacked Flaaco the first time that really made me glad I don't play football.
     
  8. Passepartout

    Passepartout December 2016!

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    Clay so far is having a great year. As he will only get better!
     
  9. NYC Cheesehead

    NYC Cheesehead Cheesehead

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    Mathews just has that mental state where he can use his mind to overcome anything and force his body to do things that physically it shouldnt.

    That is what makes good linebackers...mental toughness, body control and that speed burst to hit hard. The kid plays linebacker like its his job...oh it is his job!
     
  10. G0PackG0

    G0PackG0 Cheesehead

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    Only helps out the rest of the big G D. Put two guys on him... Then leave AJ or Nick all alone... :)

    THE BEARS STILL SUCK!
     
  11. ivo610

    ivo610 Cheesehead

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    is it just me or is he a replica of his positions coach?
     
  12. longtimefan

    longtimefan Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Not so sure? I see what your saying, but Clay I think has a higher motor
     
  13. Big Dan

    Big Dan Cheesehead

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    It isn't just you. I thought exactly the same thing during the Buffalo beat-down.
     
  14. Forget Favre

    Forget Favre Cheesehead

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    One of the reasons why I'd be a kicker or punter if I was playing.
     
  15. PackersRS

    PackersRS Cheesehead

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    And it is a beautiful thing.

    However, Greene himself said that Matthews has more athletic ability than he ever had, and that he can become an even better player than he was.

    I feel with CM3 the same way I do with Rodgers. I think both can be all time Packers and NFL players at their positions, think both can dominate the league for years to come.
     
  16. TomHQ

    TomHQ Cheesehead

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  17. ivo610

    ivo610 Cheesehead

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    I would be thrilled to see him break Greenes sack record as I am sure Kevin would be too.
     
  18. DergaSmash

    DergaSmash Cheesehead

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    Yeah, the guys is just a beast. I am thinking of getting one of those customizeable hoodies from the NFL shop. It would have the #52 on the back but the name across the top would read "Early Retirement" or "Forced Retirement" if they will fit. I think it is fitting not because he is a dirty player but because the guy really hits people.
     
  19. ivo610

    ivo610 Cheesehead

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    Via Peter King

    The Green Bay Packers can thank Brett Favre for one more thing, other than a lot of memories, when they take the field tonight in Chicago.

    The Packers traded Favre to the New York Jets for a conditional draft choice in 2008. The pick became the Jets' third-rounder in the 2009 draft because Favre played more than 50 percent of the snaps in the 2008 season. So when the Packers started looking for an extra pick to pair with the 41st and 73rd overall picks to send to New England for the 26th overall pick in the first round on that draft day, GM Ted Thompson reached into his trove of choices and pulled out the Favre pick -- the 83rd. He sent the three picks to New England for that first-rounder and a fifth- to get a prospect many in the league thought had some holes because of a very spotty college career. The prospect started only eight games in five years, but Thompson had a feel for him. He thought the prospect would be just what his front seven was missing. And so the deal got made, and Thompson used the ultimate headache that had been the Favre nightmare to help him get his man.

    NFL sack leader Clay Matthews.
     
  20. Forget Favre

    Forget Favre Cheesehead

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    If I understand your logic, your suggesting that Clay would force BrINT into an early retirement because he hits him hard?
    If that's the case, not everyone may get it. They may think that you want Clay to retire, (Which is what I thought you meant at first.)
    Also, don't get too cocky.
    Wait until the game and see what happens.

    How about something that expresses the awesomeness of Clay?
    Something that would be timeless instead of dated in just a year or two.
     
  21. DergaSmash

    DergaSmash Cheesehead

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    It is reference to how hard he hits people. It has nothing to do with BrINT or anything like that. He just reminds me of how most linebackers used to blow people up and get in their heads. Few do that these days.
     
  22. PackersRS

    PackersRS Cheesehead

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    Game is too fast.

    Too hard to have the complete package, be able to cover sideline to sideline, be able to rush the passer, play the run, AND be able to deliver blows WITHOUT missing tackles.

    In the past, a LBs job was to contain the run and deliver crushing hits. He didn't have to cover TEs who ran 4.4...
     
  23. Emperor_Xyn

    Emperor_Xyn Cheesehead

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    Interesting read, but he may be the complete package. Guy is ripped but not huge.
     

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