Remember when Ted Thompson traded up for Clay Matthews? Everyone was nervous because he was like the 4th best linebacker on his college team and they thought Ted got fleeced by Bill Belichick, who is soooo much smarter.
But then in his rookie year, Clay had 10 sacks (to go with 3 fumble recoveries, 1 of which he returned for a touchdown against the Vikings) and went to the Pro Bowl. In his second year, he 13.5 sacks and went to the Pro Bowl and was an All Pro. Heck, he went to the Pro Bowl his first 4 years in the league!
Then in 2014, he moved inside and single-handedly saved the defense, transforming them from pretty much the worst unit in the league, getting boat-raced out of Superdome by the Saints, to a championship caliber defense that beat the eventual champion Patriots, and could only be kept out of the Super Bowl by Julius Peppers telling Morgan Burnett to lay down instead of running back a touchdown. He went to the Pro Bowl again that year and the following year.
But last year, he didn’t have a Pro Bowl season!
He started the year with a sack in each of his first three games. Then he got hurt and missed four games. He game back against Philadelphia and got a sack before he got royally cheap-shotted and totally jacked up his shoulder for the rest of the season.
The guy soldiered on and late in the year, when the Packers were playing the Vikings, trying to run the table, with a minute left in the half, and Minnesota in Green Bay territory in a one-score game, CM3 busts through for a strip sack.
A couple weeks later, in the playoff game against the Giants, when Eli Manning got the team to midfield trying to mount a 4th quarter comeback, guess who swooped in for another strip sack?
Not an over-the-hill free agent pickup.
Clay Mother-truckin’ Matthews!
Those are big splash plays. The guy was hurt, badly, and gutted it out for the team, providing huge momentum swings.
Is he injury prone?
He runs a 4.5 40 straight into guys who outweigh him by 100 pounds for a living.
Kinda surprising that he ever gets hurt.
Still, before last year, he had two seasons where he started all 16 games. That’s nothing to sneeze at. That’s life in the NFL
Even if he does get hurt, that doesn’t mean he sucks. He is a rare talent, generational even. I’m not talking about stats, I’m talking about abilities. He can turn the corner at a 45 degree angle. He has an unnatural lean to his edge rush that I’ve never seen in anyone else, not even Lawrence Taylor (not that I’m comparing the two).
In short, he does things few others do. All this nonsense about he’s finished or should take a pay cut?
He’s one of the most feared pass rushers in the game, he plays with reckless abandon that wreaks havoc on opponents and sometimes gets him banged up.
Oh, but he’s old!
The guy was 30 when the season ended. You want Ted to sign all this free agents who are 33 years old, and never played in a system like Green Bay’s, but Clay Matthews is old?
The guy is the best pass rusher on the team by far and that’s the hardest position to fill in the NFL.