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.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Despite missing five games, Matthews once again led the team in sacks with 7.5, though Mike Daniels was on his tail with 6.5. Matthews is the superstar of the Green Bay defense and how he goes so goes the rest of the unit. The defense was held together by popsicle sticks and super glue while Matthews (among many others) healed and despite the Packers going 4-1 in games Matthews missed, the pass rush was not a reason why Green Bay won those games. Matthews would have had a Pro Bowl year had he remained healthy and who knows how much better the defense would have been had that thumb not been broken?
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Non-existent. Matthews was out for the 49ers playoff game. Could he have made a difference? It’s impossible to tell, but the Packers are much better on defense with him on the field. So by missing the game, he contributed towards the team’s demise though obviously not intentionally.
Season Report Card:
(B) Level of expectations met during the season
(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: B——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke