Clay Matthews III
Matthews in August 2011
No. 52 Green Bay Packers
|Date of birth:May 14, 1986|
|Place of birth: Los Angeles, California|
|High school: Agoura (CA)|
|College: Southern California|
|NFL Draft: 2009 / Round: 1 / Pick: 26|
|Debuted in 2009 for the Green Bay Packers|
|Roster status: Active|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 14, 2014
William Clay Matthews III (born May 14, 1986) is an American football linebacker for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). Matthews played college football for the University of Southern California (USC). He was drafted by the Packers in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
High school career
Matthews attended Agoura High School in Agoura Hills, California, where he played for the Agoura Chargers high school football team. Physically, Matthews was a late bloomer. His father was the team's defensive coordinator, but declined to start his son because he was physically undersized. Matthews began developing physically in his senior season, but only garnered interest from Division I FCS schools and local community colleges. He has described his own recruiting status out of high school as "not applicable." Like his father and uncle, Matthews opted to attend the University of Southern California with hopes of becoming a walk-on for the Trojans football team.
Matthews attended the University of Southern California and played for the Trojans from 2004 to 2008 under head coach Pete Carroll. Even though he was the son of an All-Pro NFL linebacker, he entered USC as an unheralded, walk-on student athlete. During his first season, USC's 2004 BCS National Championship (now vacated), he played only on the scout team and turned down several playing opportunities during garbage time during the fourth quarters of games in order to preserve his redshirt status and remaining seasons of NCAA eligibility. He remained a non-athletic scholarship (a "walk on"), reserve linebacker during the 2005 season, and played mainly on special teams. He was granted full athletic scholarship status at the beginning of the 2006 season. Matthews continued to play reserve linebacker in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, and made two starts in 2007 in place of injured teammate Brian Cushing. He was awarded USC's Co-Special Teams Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007 and blocked two field goals in the latter season.
During the off-season, Matthews committed to weight training and conditioning programs to gain size and improve his performance level and stamina. At the beginning of the 2008 season, defensive coordinator Nick Holt, Carroll and Norton decided to try using Matthews in a hybrid "Elephant" position, where Matthews would stand in the position of defensive end, but use the speed and tactics of a linebacker; the coaches had used Cushing in the position in a similar manner in 2006. The experiment was successful, as Matthews recorded 4.5 sacks while playing alongside his other NFL-bound teammates Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga and Kaluka Maiava. Furthermore, Matthews continued his spectacular special teams play and was awarded USC's Co-Special Teams Player of the Year in 2008, making him the only player in USC history to be awarded three consecutive Special Teams Player of the Year awards. Matthews was a participant in the 2009 Senior Bowl and was considered a top prospect for the 2009 NFL Draft
Matthews was one of twelve senior USC football players, including the four linebackers Cushing, Maiava, Matthews and Maualuga, attending the by-invitation-only 2009 NFL Scouting Combine. Matthews, alongside fellow USC linebackers Maualuga and Cushing, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2009 NFL Draft Preview magazine, as all three were regarded as potential first round selections.
|Ht||Wt||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP||Wonderlic|
|6 ft 3⅛ in||240 lb||4.62 s||1.49 s||2.68 s||4.18 s||6.90 s||35½ in||10 ft 1 in||23 reps||26|
|All values from NFL Combine except 40-yard dash (and splits) from USC Pro Day|
2009 NFL Draft
On draft day, April 25, 2009, the Packers traded their 2nd round pick (41st overall, Darius Butler), their 3rd round pick (73rd overall, Derek Cox, Jacksonville Jaguars) and the 83rd overall pick acquired for Favre (Brandon Tate) to the New England Patriots for a 1st round pick (26th overall) and a 5th round pick (162nd overall, Jamon Meredith) in that year's draft.
The Packers used the first round pick obtained from the Patriots to acquire Matthews with the 26th overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Kevin Greene, the former All-Pro linebacker who is third on the all time sack list with 160 (most ever by a linebacker), was hired by Dom Capers in 2009 to coach the outside linebacker position. He saw a lot of himself in Matthews but feared the Packers would not be able to draft him. Analysts were shocked when the Packers traded their 2nd and two 3rd round draft picks to the New England Patriots in order to secure Matthews and the 5th round selection. Analysts did not believe Matthews to be a first round draft prospect due to his limited playing experience at USC (only starting the final ten games of his senior season.) Greene later stated that Matthews has a "set of skills that I have not seen in an outside linebacker. Clay has a set of skills that I didn't have. He has another gear I didn't have. He's better than Kevin Greene was."
Green Bay Packers
Matthews scored his first career touchdown during a Monday Night Football game on October 5, 2009 against the Minnesota Vikings; Matthews stripped the ball from running back Adrian Peterson and ran the ball back for a score.
In week 17 against the Detroit Lions, he made 3 tackles, assisted on 2 more and sacked Daunte Culpepper twice. He was nominated for and won the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week award for his performance.
In week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys, Matthews had another outstanding game: recording 1 tackle, recovering 2 fumbles forced by cornerback Charles Woodson, and sacked Dallas quarterback Tony Romo to make him a nominee again for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week. For the 2nd time in as many nominations was voted Rookie of the Week for week 10.
Matthews had arguably his best game in his young career in week 13 when he was awarded the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award. Matthews had six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in the Packers' 27-14 win over Baltimore.
In the Packers December 13, 2009 contest vs the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, Matthews recorded his eighth sack of the season which put him into a three way tie with former Packers Tim Harris and Vonnie Holiday for the team record of most sacks in a rookie season (1982–Present). The following week Matthews recorded two more sacks vs the Pittsburgh Steelers to claim the rookie record.
Matthews recorded 51 tackles, 10.0 sacks, 7 pass deflections, a forced fumble, and 3 fumble recoveries in his rookie season. He played in all 16 games, starting at ROLB in 13 of them. He led the Packers in QB Pressures, with 45.5. He finished third for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, losing to his former USC teammate Brian Cushing. He was named NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year and set the Packer record for most sacks in a season by rookie, with 10.0.
Matthews took a different approach to the game in the 2010 season. After seeing him double-teamed and constantly chipped by running backs in the NFC wild card game against the Arizona Cardinals, Dom Capers decided to move him around the field. Matthews eventually ended up playing mostly at LOLB, but he would roam around the field, playing also at the ROLB position and sometimes in the middle. This confused opposing offenses. He finished the season with 60 tackles, 13.5 sacks (fourth in the league), 4 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception through 15 games in 2010. He became the first Packer to record 6 sacks in the first two games of the season and had 8.5 sacks in the first five weeks but slowed down the latter part of the season (5 sacks in the last 10 games due to a stress fracture in his lower leg.) Matthews was named to the 2011 Pro Bowl NFC roster for the second straight year and was named to the All-Pro team for the first time in his career. Matthews was awarded with the NFL's defensive player of the month award for September after recording 6 sacks in the first two weeks of the 2010 season. Matthews recorded a career high 55.0 QB Pressures. He was named SN-NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFC Defensive Player of the Year, and won the Butkus Award. He finished a close second (17 votes to 15) to Troy Polamalu in the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting, notable in that both led their defenses to Super Bowl XLV.
He set the Packers' record for most sacks in a single postseason with 3.5. In the Super Bowl, won by the Packers over the Pittsburgh Steelers, he recorded 3 tackles, a pass deflection, and a game changing forced fumble. On the first play of the 4th quarter with the Steelers driving to take the lead with the score 21-17 in favor of Green Bay and the ball on the Packer 33 yard line, he tackled Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, who fumbled the ball, recovered by Desmond Bishop. The Packers never lost the lead, winning their 4th Super Bowl title and first since Super Bowl XXXI, 31-25.
Matthews finished the 2011 season with 50 tackles, and a career low 6.0 sacks despite playing 15 of the 16 games. He led the Packers in quarterback pressures for the third straight season, with 53.5. Although some of his numbers plummeted from the previous season, he improved in other aspects of his game. He recorded a career high 3 interceptions, 9 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles. He also recorded his third career defensive touchdown by picking off Eli Manning for a pick-six. Matthews played almost exclusively at the LOLB position, not roaming around the field like he did the previous season due to the struggling defense. Matthews did not play a single snap at the ROLB position until week eleven and finished the entire season with only seven rushes from the ROLB spot. Matthews claimed he had his best overall season despite the low numbers. The Packers struggled to find pass pressure from the side opposite of Matthews and the loss of defensive end Cullen Jenkins due to free agency and safety Nick Collins due to a career ending neck injury, placed the Packers last in total defense despite leading the league in interceptions, with 31. Linebacker coach Kevin Greene stated that he has never seen a pass rusher get double teamed as much as Clay had that season. The defensive line struggled, finishing the season with 6 total sacks after recording 18 the year before. Matthews was named to his third straight Pro Bowl as a starter. Prior to the 2011 season, Matthews was named the second best pass rusher (2nd only to DeMarcus Ware) and the fourth best linebacker in the league by ESPN (behind Patrick Willis, James Harrison and DeMarcus Ware).
Heading into the 2012 season, the defense needed to improve. Finishing with the 32nd ranked defense in the NFL was described by Matthews as "unacceptable." The Packers drafted six straight defensive players in the draft, including Matthews' former teammate, Nick Perry, out of USC. Because of Perry's larger size (10 pounds heavier) and not being accustomed to playing pass coverage was put at the LOLB position, moving Clay Matthews back to the ROLB position he played at in his rookie year. The Packers hoped that by drafting Perry, as well as Michigan State DE Jerel Worthy and Iowa DT Mike Daniels, opposing teams would no longer be able to consistently double-team Matthews, allowing pressure to open up on all sides.
Prior to the 2012 NFL season, Sporting News ranked Matthews as the second best outside linebacker in the league, only behind Cowboy's star DeMarcus Ware. Matthews started out the season with a bang. He recorded 2.5 sacks in the 30-22 season opener loss to the eventual NFC champion 49ers and then posted a career high 3.5 sacks against the Bears on Thursday night. Matthews became one of only six players in NFL history to record six or more sacks in the first two games of the season, and is the only player ever to do it twice. Entering week nine against the Cardinals, he was second in the league in sacks with nine. Matthews had to leave the game in the second half after his left hamstring started to tighten up. He was eventually ruled out for weeks eleven through thirteen. After missing four straight games with the hamstring injury, Matthews recorded 6 tackles, 2 sacks, and a pass deflection in a 21-13 victory over the Bears. This victory crowned the Packers as NFC North champions for the second year in a row. Matthews totaled 3 tackles and a sack in a 37-34 season ending loss to the Vikings. He finished the season with 43 tackles, 13.0 sacks (5th in the league), 2 passes defended, and a forced fumble. Matthews was selected to his fourth straight Pro Bowl, but dropped out due to injury and was names to the All-Pro team for the second time.
In the offseason, Matthews became the highest paid linebacker in NFL history when he and the Packers made a deal worth $66 million over the next five seasons.
Playing in only 11 games during the 2013 season, Matthews recorded 41 tackles (26 solo), a team-high 7.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. During the Packers' Week 5 match-up with the Detroit Lions on October 6, 2013, Matthews broke his right thumb and would miss the next 4 games of the season. On November 10, in a game at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, he returned to the playing field, donning a large "club" cast over his entire right hand. Without the ability to use his fingers to grab or apply pressure or leverage, Matthews was left to be fairly ineffective during this game. The following week, he returned to the field with a less constrictive device that allowed his fingers to remain free. The less restrictive device seemed to improve his performance the following week. After completing only two tackles (one solo) with no sacks, stuffs, hits or hurries on the quarterback against the Eagles, in the Packers' Week 11 match-up against the New York Giants the following week, Matthews had 4 tackles, including a sack and stuff with the less constrictive device. After the Giants game, Matthews would go on to accumulate 4.5 more sacks and 17 tackles (10 solo) over the next 5 weeks. In Week 16, during the second to last game of the regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Matthews re-fractured his thumb and did not play another down the rest of the season.
Regular season statistics
|Year||Team||G||TTkl||Solo||Ast||Sacks||QB Pressures||Int||Yards||Avg||Lg||TD||Pass Def||FF||FR||Yards||FTD||TTD|
|2013||Green Bay Packers||11||41||26||15||7.5||32.5||0||0||0||0||0||1||3||0||0||0||0|
|2012||Green Bay Packers||12||43||32||11||13.0||48.0||0||0||0||0||0||2||1||0||0||0||0|
|2011||Green Bay Packers||15||50||37||13||6.0||53.5||3||47||15.7||38T||1||9||3||0||0||0||1|
|2010||Green Bay Packers||15||60||54||6||13.5||55.0||1||62||62||62T||1||4||2||0||0||0||1|
|2009||Green Bay Packers||16||51||37||14||10.0||45.5||0||0||0||0||0||7||1||3||46||1||1|
Matthews was born in Los Angeles, California to parents Clay and Leslie Matthews. His father Clay Matthews, Jr. played 19 seasons and 278 games as a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons while earning 4 Pro Bowl selections. His uncle Bruce Matthews also played 19 seasons in the NFL, playing 296 games an offensive lineman for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise after being drafted out of USC in 1983, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and considered one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history, playing in an NFL-record 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. Both brothers were All-Americans. His grandfather Clay Matthews, Sr. played 4 seasons in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s. Of his father's four sons, he is the second to play for USC. His younger brother Casey Matthews is a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, following a prosperous collegiate run with Oregon. He also has cousins involved in football: Kevin Matthews is a center who played for Texas A&M, Jake Matthews is an offensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons and Mike Matthews is a center for Texas A&M. Every Friday during the football season, Clay talks football on Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure on Newsradio 620 WTMJ. Matthews is also related to Troy Niklas who played college football at Notre Dame and is now a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
The Matthews football dynasty family tree:
Clay Matthews made an appearance in the WWE on February 9, 2011, when he ran down to the ring to assist in Edge's World Heavyweight Championship match against Dolph Ziggler as a backup referee, as Vickie Guerrero was the original special referee for that match. Vickie Guerrero injured her ankle (kayfabe) after trying to spear Edge, and Edge won the match and the championship after spearing Ziggler twice, while Vickie was being attended to at ringside for her injury (kayfabe). Shortly after the second spear, Matthews ran down to the ring to make the three-count and give Edge the win. This episode took place in Green Bay, the same week the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLV).
- Gary Klein, USC’s Clay Matthews had to walk on before he could run, Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2008. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- "Power Rankings: Top 10 NFL linebackers". espn. November 2, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
- Erik McKinney, Molding A Spot for Clay, WeAreSC.com, May 4, 2008. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Albert Breer, USC just might be the true location of Linebacker U, Sporting News, January 21, 2009. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Ted Miller, Pac-10 NFL combine invitees, ESPN.com, February 2, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
- Gary Klein, USC's Maualuga, Kushing and Matthews grace Sports Illustrated cover, LATimes.com, April 21, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
- "NFL Game Center: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings - 2009 Week 4". Nfl.com. Retrieved 2010-12-22.
- Borzi, Pat (October 6, 2009). "Finally Facing the Packers, Favre Delivers a Gem". New York Times.
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- Sorgi, Jay (March 29, 2012). "Packers LB Matthews to wear a Depend undergarment in ad". WTMJ-620. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- http://www.wwe.com/inside/news/claymatthewsinterview Retrieved September 10, 2013
- Video on YouTube Retrieved September 10, 2013
- http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/recap?gameId=310206009 Retrieved February 3, 2014
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