Tag:Clay Matthews
Posted on: February 2, 2011 6:31 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Matchup breakdown: Steelers O vs. Packers D

R. Mendenhall (US Presswire)

Posted by Andy Benoit

In the AFC Championship, the Steelers surprised everyone by coming out running against the Jets. On paper, Pittsburgh’s banged-up offensive line was overmatched against New York’s third-ranked run defense. But on the field, the opposite proved true.

With Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey possibly out this Sunday (ankle/foot), one might think Pittsburgh would be inclined to come out throwing. After all, backup Doug Legursky has a noticeable lack of power, while Green Bay’s nose tackle B.J. Raji has a noticeable abundance of it.
 
But despite the Legursky-Raji mismatch, don’t be surprised if the Steelers once again rely on Rashard Mendenhall early on. Running the ball shortens the game and keeps Aaron Rodgers off the field. More than that, it decreases the number of times lumbering right tackle Flozell Adams has to fend off lightning pass-rusher Clay Matthews (Adams vs. Matthews is a mismatch that makes every member of the Steeler organization shudder; it’s hard to imagine the Steelers won’t concoct some form of tight end help for Adams.)

Early in the season, the Steeler offensive line and third down back Mewelde Moore struggled mightily with blitz identification. They got the pass-blocking issues in order down the stretch, but with two weeks to prepare, you have to figure Dom Capers will design at least a few new complicated zone exchanges and delayed A-gap blitzes.

What’s more, whether he’s blitzing or feigning a blitz, slot cornerback/rover Charles Woodson is the key to Green Bay’s pressure schemes. If it’s Woodson vs. Ben Roethlisberger in a presnap chess match, Steelers lose.

Super Bowl experience will have a pretty huge impact on this game as well. Here's Hines Ward on that subject:


Running the ball would ameliorate those unfavorable passing game matchups for the Steelers. But more than that, the Steelers may very well feel that they have an advantage against the Packer run defense anyway. Yes, Doug Legursky, left tackle Jonathan Scott and right guard Ramon Foster all lack the power necessary to generate downhill movement as run-blockers. But left guard Chris Kemoeatu doesn’t.

Kemoeatu is one of the most mobile blockers in football. When he gets to the second level and faces linebackers, he’s frighteningly nasty .The Packer defense did an excellent job at keeping inside linebackers Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk clean from blockers this season. (Why do you think the inexperienced Bishop and resoundingly average Hawk were the only two Packers to record 100-plus tackles?)

But the Steelers, who run two-tight end base personnel, could give those inside linebackers problems by shifting to three-receiver personnel (which would involve replacing Matt Spaeth with wideout Emmanuel Sanders). The Packers almost always use a 2-4-5 alignment in nickel defense. With only two downlinemen, Kemoeatu would have a clear path to Bishop or Hawk (and remember, in nickel, one of those inside ‘backers will be off the field). In that case, Mendenhall could run inside, or, if he’s lucky, get isolated on the edges against outside linebacker Erik Walden (an impressive athlete but very callow run-stopper).

Roethlisberger is Pittsburgh’s best playmaker, but the run game could very well be Pittsburgh’s best chance at a seventh Lombardi trophy.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: February 2, 2011 2:24 am
Edited on: February 3, 2011 8:45 am
 

Green Bay Packers defensive roster breakdown

Posted by Will Brinson & Andy Benoit

Perhaps the most fascinating thing if you look (at a glance anyway) at Pittsburgh and Green Bay is that they've built their teams "properly." (AKA "the opposite of Dan Snyder.) They draft smart, and they sign smarter. At least that's what we're lead to believe, right?

Andy and I set out to check the roster breakdown for both teams. En route, we* managed to figure out not only where they're coming from, but what they'll do for their respective teams in the Super Bowl.

Name POS Acquired Scouting Report
Ryan Pickett
DE 
Drafted 29th overall 1st Round 2005, STL; 2006 FA
Tough guy to move in the trenches; never gives up on a play.
B.J. Raji
DT
Drafted 9th overall, 1st Round 2009
Did not truly come on until late in the year, but once he did…wow. Haloti Ngata of the NFC.
Cullen Jenkins
DE
UDFA 2003
Incredibly nimble for a 300-pounder. Can rush the passer (eight sacks on the season despite missing time and fighting through a calf injury) and also anchor against the run.
Howard Green
DL
Drafted 190th, 6th Round, 2002, BAL; FA 2010
Ate himself out of New York but offers some power whenever one of the starters needs some oxygen.
Clay Matthews
LOLB
Drafted 26th overall, 1st Round 2009
Skims the edge with astonishing speed. Can change directions and hunt down the ball in the blink of an eye. (OK…in 10 blinks of the eye. But blink 10 times in a row and you’ll realize that’s still incredibly quick.)
A.J. Hawk
LILB
Drafted 5th overall, 1st Round, 2006
Fundamentally sound system player, but not enough of his tackles come near the line of scrimmage. Plus, you don’t draft “fundamentally sound system players” fifth overall.
Desmond Bishop
RILB
Drafted 192nd overall, 6th Round, 2007
Green Bay’s most dynamic inside linebacker. Instincts aren’t dazzling, but very good at reacting to what he sees. Gets downhill with alacrity.
Erik Walden
ROLB
Drafted 167th overall, 6th Round, 2008, KC; FA 2010
Plays because he’s a better athlete than all of the other “non-injured” outside linebackers.
Frank Zombo
LB
UDFA 2010
Can make the play that’s right there in front of him, but that’s about it.
Tramon Williams
CB
UDFA 2006 Hard to believe he went undrafted given that he’s such a natural talent. Ball skills have flourished now that he’s comfortable with one-on-one technique.
Charles Woodson
CB**
Drafted 4th overall, 1st Round 1998, OAK; FA 2006
Matthews is fantastic, but this is still Green Bay’s most valuable defensive player. His versatility is what makes Dom Capers’ defense thrive.
Charlie Peprah
SS
Drafted 158th overall, 5th Round 2006
Not bad, but completions seem to occur most often in his area of the field.
Nick Collins
FS
Drafted 51st overall, 2nd Round 2005
Excellent range. Has a knack for sniffing out the ball when in attack mode. Very good tackler, too.
Sam Shields
CB
UDFA 2010
Undrafted rookie has terrific speed. Less than two years of cornerbacking experience explains why he sometimes struggles to feel-out his safety help.
Atari Bigby
DB
UDFA 2005
Was looking like the next big thing until injuries derailed much of his 2010 season.

*Scouting smarts credited to Benoit. HTML and research credited to Brinson.

*Classification is really unfair for him.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Clay Matthews discusses shampoo vs. conditioner

Posted by Will Brinson

ARLINGTON, Texas - Media Day at the Super Bowl is all about VERY SERIOUS JOURNALISTIC BUSINESS.

And, apparently, asking Clay Matthews about shampoo versus conditioner, which is what the guy representing Nickelodeon Cartoons (I kid you not, dear reader) did on Tuesday.

 

 

It was obviously nice of Clay to play along, but what can you really do when you're staring across the microphone at a guy in a child-like, nerdy superhero costume?

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: January 31, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2011 12:05 am
 

Super Bowl Scene Monday night

A. Rodgers (US Presswire)

Posted by Andy Benoit

IRVING, Texas -- The media got a police escort from the Sheraton to the Omni Mandalay at Las Colinas in Irving for the Packers’ Monday evening press conference. The three buses that were scheduled to leave at “4:00 sharp” took off around 4:30. As they raced down the empty streets, Dallas denizens lined the sidewalks, waving and snapping photos (they thoughts members of the Green Bay Packers were behind the tinted bus windows).

Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Charles Woodson, A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews were the only players made available. With Mike McCarthy’s press conference taking place a few rooms over, hundreds of media members crammed into a basement lobby to score a prime position around the players’ tables. Some tables were less crowded than others (see photos of Rodgers’ table vs. Jennings’ table….both photos were taken some 15 minutes before the players arrived).

Once the players came in and the questions started firing, the entire scene became somewhat of a cluster….the entire scene became chaotic. Going off strict observation, a reporter’s job is to ask a player a loaded, leading question before any other reporter can ask them a loaded, leading question. More entertaining than the players’ response (which is one of three things: canned, clichéd or politely evasive) are the facial expressions of all the reporters whose questions weren’t heard. A lot of people are left feeling like their toes have been stepped on.

And when a player does go outside the lines, he’s playing with fire. Jennings was asked if he told the guarded Rodgers to let his hair down this week. Jennings’ response – “I told him to spike his hair up” – was met with stone silence. Damn him, he wasn’t making the writers’ jobs easy.

Donald Driver made reports’ jobs easy, if a reporter was looking for a quote that involved the phrase “confidence level is high”. Each table has microphone and a speaker so that players can be heard. No joke: Driver’s speaker sounded like it was replaying the same audio clip again and again.

Back on the bus, writers flipped through notebooks of sloppy handwriting and replayed bites of mildly-garbled sound. They compared quotes and discussed amongst themselves the spin they would put on it (you’d be surprised how much spin is involved).
No police escort on the way back, which explains why the people of Dallas no longer acknowledged the bus.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

 

Posted on: January 31, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 8:44 pm
 

Polamalu - not Matthews - wins DPOY

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

DALLAS – The buzz in the media room the last few minutes has been about the report that Clay Matthews had won the defensive player of the year award and that how … well … that report might be a tad premature.

Turns out the initial reports were incorrect.

As reported on the NFL Network, Steelers S Troy Polamalu actually edged out Matthews 17 votes to 15 (LB James Harrison was third and Bears DE Julius Peppers was fourth) to win the award.

While Matthews was fantastic early this season – there was plenty of talk that he had a chance at breaking Michael Strahan’s sack record (remember that?) – he made less of an impact as the season wore on. With only three sacks in the last seven games of the season, he finished with 13.5, two behind Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware, the league leader.

Meanwhile, Polamalu was his usual brilliant self for Pittsburgh, collecting 63 tackles in 14 games while intercepting seven passes (tied for his career-high) with 11 defended passes.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .



Posted on: January 31, 2011 7:29 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 8:25 pm
 

Report: Matthews wins Defensive POY

Posted by Will Brinson

Update: Looks like those reports were incorrect -- Troy Polamalu won the award.

Clay Matthews, the Green Bay Packers linebacker who terrorized quarterbacks in Dom Capers blitzing 3-4 scheme, won the 2010 AP Defensive Player of the Year award, it was reported on Monday afternoon.

Matthews spoke live just a few minutes after the Packers met with the media for their initial press conference on the NFL Network, in a piece expected to segue into the announcement of the award.

That Matthews won wasn't all too surprising -- he finished the year with 13.5 sacks, an interception (returned for a touchdown), two forced fumbles and 59 tot <script src="http://images.cbssports.com/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js" type="text/javascript"></script> al tackles.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 27, 2011 8:45 am
 

Clay Matthews gets a hair product deal

Posted by Andy Benoit
C. Matthews (US Presswire)
Earlier this week, I listed “Troy Polamalu’s vs. Clay Matthews’ hair” at number five in the 10 Super Bowl Stories You’ll Get Sick Of. I wrote, “You just know some idiot is going to do an entertainment feature on this.”

At the time, I wasn’t planning on me being that idiot. But an interesting news tidbit first reported by MSNBC’s sports business guru Darren Rovell (who is most certainly NOT an idiot) changed the circumstances. According to Rovell, the Packers star linebacker signed a one-year deal with Unilever’s Suave brand.

“The idea behind Suave is that men need different products than women,” Matthews’ marketing agent, Ryan Williams, said. “Clay really wanted to do a deal like this.”

This is an endorsement Matthews publicly sought out. "I've been throwing it out there and just getting shunned," Matthews said on Monday. "I don't know what it is...America, I'm looking for a hair deal." After it became apparent that Troy Polamalu’s Steelers would be facing Matthews’ Packers in Super Bowl XLV, Matthews’ appeal took off. His arrangement with Suave includes pre-Super Bowl media appearances.

Polamalu’s deal with Head and Shoulders resulted in a $1 million insurance policy on his Polynesian locks. No word on what precautions have been taken with Matthews’ golden locks.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: January 24, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 6:08 pm
 

Early look at Super Bowl XLV Packers vs. Steelers

Posted by Charley Casserly

It’d be hard to ask for a better matchup in Super Bowl XLV than the Green Bay Packers vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. These are the hottest teams in their respective conferences. Both have big-name quarterbacks, playmakers on offense and a host of Pro Bowl caliber contributors in their well-coached 3-4 defenses. It’s no wonder the oddsmakers and pundits are forecasting a close game. Here is an early overview of the matchup.

Three "X" FactorsB. Roethlisberger (US Presswire)

1. Super Bowl experience

The Steelers, only two years removed from winning Super Bowl XLIII, have an edge in experience that will come in to play both on and off the field. Having been in four Super Bowls myself, here is how I see the edge manifesting itself:

There are a lot of off the field distractions the players and staff have to deal with. These include ticket requests, media requests, family and friends travel, etc. The coaches have to manage these distractions while determining how much of the game plan to install at home and how much to install after arriving in Dallas. Some teams like to put in the game plan before they get to the Super Bowl site in order to have it done before the majority of distractions set in. Others want to wait so as not to have the players get bored or stale the week of the game.

The Steelers and their staff have dealt with this conundrum before. The Packers, for the most part, have not.


2. The two weeks to prepare and rest

I think this could favor or hurt Green Bay – we won't know until the game. On the one hand Green Bay is on a roll. They have faced elimination in their last five outings. They survived and, thus, have momentum. The two-week break could disrupt that momentum.
 
On the other hand, the break may be just the thing they need to get recharged. If they had to play next week, they maybe would run out of gas.

 
3. Green Bay’s familiarity with defensive scheme

The Packers may have an edge over many, if not all, of the opponents that the Steelers have played this year. That edge? They play the same 3-4 defense as Pittsburgh. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau worked together in Pittsburgh when LeBeau was the defensive backs coach when Capers was the defensive coordinator (1992-94). This will help Green Bay more than other teams that have had to prepare for Pittsburgh this season, as Green Bay will have had a better look in practice from their scout team in imitating Pittsburgh's defense.

 
Two key statistical categories that could come into play

 
1. Sacks per pass play

In terms of sacks per pass play, the Steelers offense ranks 30th in preventing sacks, while the Packers defense ranks third. On the other side of the ball, Green Bay's offense is 20th in sacks per pass play while Pittsburgh’s defense is sixth. Just watching film, it would seem Green Bay has the edge here. The statistics agree.
 
Both teams will have the opportunity to sack the opposing QB. I believe it comes down to which QB can avoid the pressure and still make a play. Conversely, which team when they get that free defender can bring the opposing QB down? Ben Roethlisberger is not only mobile, he is big and strong. He can throw with defenders draping off of him. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, is quicker a foot than Roethlisberger and can avoid defenders. 

 
2. Rushing

The Steelers run defense is ranked number one in the NFL. The Packers rushing offense is ranked 24th. This is a clear advantage for the Steelers. How will the Packers be able to run the ball? I believe their best chance will be to spread the Steelers out to make them defend the pass first, then come back with the run second. In other words, set up the run with the pass.

 
Three matchups of note (Green Bay offense vs. Pittsburgh defense)

 
1. Green Bay Wide Receivers vs. Pittsburgh CB's

The Packers have a decided edge here. The two things the Steelers must do to negate this edge is a.) jam the receivers off the line to disrupt their timing on their routes in their rhythm passing game and b.) do a good job tackling when Green Bay’s wideouts catch the ball. Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson are all fantastic at running after the catch.

 
2. Green Bay's OT’s vs. Pittsburgh’s OLB’s

This is an edge for Pittsburgh. Most defenses only have one good pass-rusher. Pittsburgh has two in James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. Green Bay has to either make sure they help their OT's in some way (likely with a RB chipping or a TE staying in to block). The Packers cannot let the Steeler OLB's go one on one against Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga, backup T.J. Lang or one of their backs.

 
3. Green Bay’s center Scott Wells vs. Pittsburgh’s NT Casey Hampton

This is an advantage for Pittsburgh in terms of size and strength. If the Packers can't find a way to control Hampton by helping Wells or devise a running scheme to take advantage of Hampton's tendency to over-pursue (such as having the RB cut back against the grain in the opposite direction of Hampton's initial movement), they will struggle to run the ball.

 
Three matchups of note (Green Bay defense vs. Pittsburgh offense)


1. Green Bay’s NT B.J. Raji vs. Pittsburgh’s C (Maurkice Pouncey or Doug Legursky)

Raji will have a decided edge over whoever Pittsburgh plays at OC (Pro Bowl rookie Maurkice Pouncey hopes to play on his bad ankle; third-year pro Doug Legursky is the backup). It is the same principle that Green Bay faces in running the ball against Casey Hampton: you need a plan to negate the edge that the opposing NT has over your C. B. Raji (US Presswire)

2. Green Bay’s nickel defense vs. Pittsburgh’s run offense

Green Bay will line up in their nickel defense on running downs and dare teams to run the ball. (Often times, they have just two defensive linemen in these packages.) If the Packers do this, the Steelers have to take advantage and run the ball effectively.

3. Green Bay’s OLB Clay Mathews vs. Pittsburgh OT's (LT Jonathan Scott, RT Flozell Adams)

Both OT's for Pittsburgh, Scott and Adams, are backup players. Mathews, like James Harrison, is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. Mathews has to win his matchups against the Steelers tackles. The Packers do a good job moving him around to get him into favorable matchups. Can the Steelers figure this out and find a way to block him? 
 

Beyond the statistics and matchups: two more things to watch  

1. Will Green Bay employ a strategy similar to New England's plan against the Steeler defense? The Patriots spread the Steeler defense out and had a lot of success passing the ball. I think that is the best plan to beat the Steeler defense – and I think the Packers have the ideal personnel to execute that plan.

 
2. Will the Steelers try to run the ball to the outside early in the game to make those big Packer defensive linemen run to the ball? The hope here is that doing so will make those D-linemen tire and wear down as the game goes along. Fatigued defensive linemen, of course, are less effective against both the run and pass later in the game.

 
Prediction
 
This is a very even game, but I give the edge to the Steelers because of the slight edge at QB and their greater big game experience. I think the difference in the game will be Roethlisberger making more plays against the pass-rush than Rodgers. 




For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com