Packers Clay Matthews Looking Like NFC Defensive Player of the Year

clay matthews

It's really been a phenomenal season for both the Green Bay Packers defensive unit and their star Left Outside Linebacker Clay Matthews.
The second year pro out of USC is really flourishing within Defensive
Coordinator Dom Capers' 3-4 system, and the race for NFC Defensive
Player of the Year figures to come down to him and Philadelphia Eagles
cornerback Asante Samuel.

"I was fortunate enough that my first year was his (Capers) first
year. I think we finished one or two in defense last year. And I think
right now we're leading the NFL in points per game allowed," Matthews said at Cowboys Stadium during the Nike Football Media Summit
Tuesday. "Especially with all the injures we've had, he responds, he
puts us in the right position. It's not just a defense for one or two
guys, it's meant for everybody," Matthews continued.

The 6-3, 255 one man wrecking crew was in Dallas as the world's
leading sportswear corporation unveiled its next generation of Nike Pro
Combat uniforms and the new Air Zoom Alpha Talon cleat. Matthews was
part of the mega-event, one of five NFL players modeling the equipment.


"Everything they've presented to us as far as the fly wire and the
talons on the bottom is really beneficial in what we've preaching for a
long time," Matthews said.

"Especially a guy like me with my size and speed, I need something
that can give me better support, a bigger shoe that can move like a
lightweight shoe, like what a DB would wear. I'm looking forward to
wearing 'em in games and seeing what they can do for me."

Matthews has a solid all around game, but he's known primarily as a
pass-rusher. Part of that is because he just happens to excel so much in
the one particular aspect of the game considered "sexy" on the
defensive side of the ball. (And when ESPN's Erin Andrews dresses up in your uniform on air for Halloween,
people are destined to associate the word "sexy" with your game). But
maybe as time goes by we'll see Matthews get more acclaim for his drop
back coverage and run-stuffing skills.

"I like to think I'm known not as a one trick pony, but absolutely,
the great thing about these is it's not just going to do one thing: not
just going to make you faster or built for more traction. It's built for
every part of your game," Matthews said.

"Especially for me, I'm rushing the passer, I might be coming
underneath and playing around the guards and center. I might be dropping
back into coverage, man to man on backs and tight ends. It covers
everything as far as traction for making proper cuts that I need to do
at my height and weight with these little guys coming out of the

Matthews is leading the NFC in sacks, but is 1.5 behind Miami's
Cameron Wake for the NFL lead. And was asked if keeps tabs on such

"Absolutely, obviously the most important stat is winning games, but
for your personal goals you like to accumulate as many stats as
possible. It keeps you motivated and what not. I got to get more sacks
if I want to get that lead back!" he responded.

Green Bay's defensive ranking in Capers/Matthews' first year improved
up to second in the league from twenty-first in 2008. The defensive
yards allowed ranking for the Packers stood at 9th as of week 14 of
the 2010 season, but the unit's performance is especially stellar when
considering the number of injuries the Packers have experienced. They
are first in ppg allowed at 14.5. Pittsburgh is second in the NFL at

"As far as stopping the run, he gets to turn the dogs loose, it's not
just the outside linebackers, it's your corners, your safeties, your
middle linebackers, the d linemen
and that's what makes it so special," Matthews said.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports , a Midwest webzine. He's also a regular contributor to the Tribune's Chicago Now network, Walter, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports

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