Packers Clay Matthews talks Campbell’s Chunky Soup, his badass DNA and great hair
Clay Matthews could definitely steal my girlfriend and probably yours too, bud. Upon scheduling this interview, my girlfriend did a quick Google search to put a face with the name.
As images of “The Clay Maker” flipped across her iPhone, she said, “Wow. This guy is a complete stud.” The accompanying far away look in her eyes told me all I needed to know; that if given the chance, she would shed me the way Matthews sheds opposing double teams.
Aside from getting the ladies flustered off the field, Matthews has established himself as the best pass rusher in the NFL, thanks to a successful start to his career that rivals any linebacker in NFL history.
In five seasons, Matthews has made the Pro Bowl four times, been selected as an All-Pro twice, been named NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and won Super Bowl XLV.
I was fortunate to speak with Clay about his career, his lineage and the Campbell’s Chunky “Sacks for Soup” campaign.
Talk about the partnership with Campbell’s Chunky Soup.
For the past year I teamed up with Campbell’s Chunky and created the “Sacks for Soup” campaign. For every sack that I was able to get last year, Campbell’s Chunky donated 2,000 cans of soup; 1,000 to a local Green Bay food bank and another 1,000 to the opposing team’s city. To date, we’ve donated over 40,000 cans of Chunky soup. For every sack, they also donated $1,000, so we were able to get around up to $20,000 for my foundation (CM3 Charitable Fund), so it’s been a fantastic campaign; one that not only provides for myself, but gives back in the process of doing so.
What’s your favorite kind?
My favorite kind thanks to the Green Bay weather and obviously a play on the Packers is the Hearty Cheeseburger. They’re all fantastic, so it’s hard to choose, but just like on the commercial, I like the Clam Chowder and the Spicy Quesadilla as well. They’re all really good, so I have to say all three.
I thought they’d make you a special kind called “Bear Chunks” for the way you’ve annihilated Chicago Bears quarterbacks in your career.
I’m willing to try! I don’t know if it would be a big seller, but I’d be all for it.
Click here for the full interview.
Posted in: General Sports, Interviews, NFL, Super Bowl
Tags: Brian Urlacher, Campbell's Chunky Soup, Chicago Bears, Clay Matthews, Clay Matthews All-Pro, Clay Matthews Hair, Clay Matthews Interview, Clay Matthews Mama's Boy, Clay Matthews Mom Cave, Green Bay Packers, Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews, Jerome Bettis, Packers Clay Matthews, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rashard Mendenhall, Sacks For Soup, Super Bowl XLV
Ten Observations from Wild Card Weekend in the NFL
1. Mike Shanahan cost both his quarterback and his team on Sunday.
That was a shameful display of coaching on Sunday by Mike Shanahan. First and foremost, who cleared Robert Griffin III to play? Dr. James Andrews said he never even examined him, so if it was Shanahan that cleared him then the league needs to investigate why a head coach is playing doctor. Secondly, RGIII was clearly in pain after he tweaked his knee near the end zone of the Redskins’ second scoring drive. It was painful to watch him fall to the ground after being untouched and then quickly glance to the sidelines looking for somebody (his head coach maybe?) to waive the white flag for him. But he’s tough and he should be commended for staying in the game. Still, it shouldn’t have taken his knee bending sideways and him lying on the ground withering in pain during the fourth quarter for Shanahan to finally pull him. He couldn’t run and he couldn’t put weight on his back leg, which caused him to throw inaccurately on nearly every attempt. By keeping him in the game, Shanahan continued to put RGIII at risk for serious injury. Forget being a human being at that point – why didn’t Mike Shanahan, the head coach, recognize that his injured quarterback was costing him an opportunity to win? Even if RGIII had begged to stay in the game Shanahan should have pulled the kid at halftime and allowed a healthy Kirk Cousins to have a crack at Seattle’s defense. There was a lot of bad coaching that took place this weekend but Shanahan was the king of stupidity on Sunday.
2. There’s a lot of good and bad that came out of the Seahawks’ win.
After 12 minutes had ticked off the clock on Sunday, it looked as if the Redskins were going to waltz down to Atlanta next week. So it was impressive to watch the Seahawks weather the storm and produce what wound up being a convincing victory. Marshawn Lynch was in full “beastmode” while rushing for 132 yards on 20 carries and he could be in store for another big game next week because the Falcons can’t stop the run either. Russell Wilson was shaky in his NFL postseason debut but he made plays when they counted, specifically on a 22-yard pass to Zach Miller on third down to set up a go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. The defense also harassed a limited RGIII and held Alfred Morris in check outside of the first quarter. But the news wasn’t all positive for Seattle. The early reports are that top pass rusher Chris Clemons tore his ACL and his loss would serve as a big blow to Seattle’s defense with Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ explosive passing game on deck. That was also an extremely physical game for the Seahawks, who now have to fly back to Seattle before making the cross-country flight to Atlanta next weekend. That’s a lot of traveling for a team that has a history of not playing well on the road so while it’ll be a happy flight back to Seattle for Pete Carroll’s team, it might feel like a short week with all that transpired on Sunday.
3. Bill Musgrave did Joe Webb a disservice.
Joe Webb was brutal in Green Bay on Saturday night but he should be spared of heavy criticism. Christian Ponder’s injury left the Vikings in a bad situation and it’s hardly surprising that a quarterback with zero reps in the regular season struggled in a road playoff game. That said, Webb took first-team reps all week in practice so clearly Minnesota knew there was a good chance that Ponder wouldn’t play. So why offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave didn’t play to the strengths of his backup quarterback is beyond conventional wisdom. Remember, Green Bay prepared all week for Ponder, not the athletically-gifted Webb. Outside of Adrian Peterson, the biggest threat Minnesota had was the element of surprise but Musgrave decided against using it to his advantage. Why did he ditch the read-option after the first series of the game (a series that netted the Vikings a field goal)? Why didn’t he turn the contest into the equivalent of a college football bowl game? Instead of using Webb’s speed as a weapon, Musgrave kept him in the pocket. Instead of putting the Packers on their heels, Musgrave allowed Green Bay to turn Clay Matthews loose by forcing an inaccurate Webb to stand still. The results were predictably horrifying for the Vikings, who just one week ago beat that same Packers team to reach the postseason. Granted, Musgrave should be cut a little slack for having to call plays for a quarterback he hadn’t worked with all season (at least not in a regular season game). But instead of going for broke with the cards that he was dealt, Musgrave played things conventionally and wound up losing anyway.
4. The Bengals’ over thought their game plan.
Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden made tight end Jermaine Gresham the focal point of his game plan on Saturday because he believed the way to beat Houston’s defense was to attack its linebackers. It was, at the very least, a novel approach. But Gruden also completely outthought himself in the process. When it comes to the playoffs, teams need to dance with who brought them and in the case of Cincinnati, that would be A.J. Green. Andy Dalton had negative-6 yards passing at halftime of the Bengals’ 19-13 loss to the Texans on Saturday as Green wasn’t even targeted once. When the Bengals changed their approach at halftime to get Green (five catches, 80 yards) more involved, they moved the ball much more effectively in the second half. Granted, credit Wade Phillips for scheming to take Green out of the game. He often used a corner underneath and a safety over top in coverage, which helped neutralize both Green and Dalton. But Gruden’s job is to design ways for Green to get open and he didn’t do that until Houston had built a 17-6 lead in the third quarter. Failing to utilize his best playmaker in the biggest game of the season could eat at Gruden all offseason.
5. Andy Dalton needs more help.
Andy Dalton has struggled playing against the upper-echelon of NFL defenses in his first two seasons. No quarterback likes to have defenders in their face but Dalton especially struggles when teams figure out how to bring pressure up the middle. The Texans did that on Saturday and Dalton struggled mightily. His overthrow to A.J. Green late in the fourth quarter was so bad that a diving Green (who had broken open on the play) never laid a hand on it. And because of his talent limitations (the biggest knock on him is his average to below-average arm strength), there also seems to be a ceiling to Dalton’s development. That said, he’s led the Bengals (the Bengals, mind you) to back-to-back postseason appearances. Poor performance or not, Cincinnati isn’t considering making a change at quarterback right now, nor should it. That said, the Bengals need to find Dalton more weapons because it’s hard to imagine him leading Cincinnati to the Super Bowl on the strengths of his God-given abilities. They need to find another weapon opposite of A.J. Green. They need to find a running back capable of producing explosive runs. They need to find a slot receiver with breakaway speed and another pass-catching tight end to go along with Jermaine Gresham. Outside of upgrading the middle linebacker position (Rey Maualuga was repeatedly exposed on Saturday), Cincinnati’s defense is in good shape. What the Bengals need to focus on now is elevating the talent around their quarterback or else the expectations for both Dalton and the offense should be tempered.
6. The Texans seemed relieved, which isn’t a good thing with who’s coming up.
Despite their victory over the Bengals on Saturday, the Texans are far from “fixed.” Houston dominated Cincinnati in every facet of the game except the scoreboard. Arian Foster went off for 174 yards of total offense and J.J. Watt was once again a one-man wrecking crew but Houston still couldn’t pull away. In fact, had Andy Dalton not overthrown an open A.J. Green in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati could have easily pulled off a victory. Instead, the Texans hung on for victory and were rewarded with a trip to New England (the site of their 42-14 massacre in Week 14). One touchdown and four field goals isn’t going to cut it next weekend versus the Patriots. Nobody game plans to take away a team’s biggest strength like Bill Belichick, so don’t expect Foster to have the same output next Sunday. Can Matt Schaub elevate his play by putting an entire team on his shoulders? Considering how relieved he looked just to make it past a limited Cincinnati squad, it’s doubtful.
7. It was a collective effort by the Packers.
As Cris Collinsworth pointed out on the broadcast Saturday night, Green Bay’s defense did a great job walling off Adrian Peterson throughout the game. Considering he still rushed for 99 yards it’s not as if the Packers shut him down, but they ensured that he didn’t break long runs by tackling and constantly putting defenders in his face. But it was a collective effort by the Packers, who are at their best when they get everyone involved offensively. John Kuhn only touched the ball five times but he found the end zone twice. Greg Jennings didn’t score but he routinely caught passes on third down to keep the chains moving and DuJuan Harris did a nice job serving as Aaron Rodgers’ check down option. Speaking of which, Rodgers didn’t post monster numbers but he was highly efficient. His poise and accuracy allowed Green Bay to sustain drives and keep Peterson on the sidelines. With Joe Webb floundering on the other side, once Rodgers and the offense built a lead you knew the Packers could start preparing for San Francisco. The task gets much more difficult a week from now but Mike McCarthy had to be pleased with his team’s sound effort on Sunday night.
8. Win or lose, it was a hell of a season for the Colts.
This goes without saying – Andrew Luck needs more help. Save for Arizona, Indianapolis had the worst pass protection in football this year and yet because of Luck, the Colts made the playoffs. But teams that regularly have to throw the ball 50-plus times a game don’t win, especially on the road in the playoffs. He was hit on damn near every pass attempt this season and unlike Russell Wilson and RGIII, Luck wasn’t aided by an effective running game. He, and the Chuck Pagano-inspired Colts, were the best surprise of the 2012 season. And while I thought they would have kept the game on Sunday closer than they did, it was still a very successful season for that team. It won’t be long before the Colts are winning AFC South titles on a consistent basis again.
9. The Ravens offense finally woke up.
Throw out their impressive Week 16 victory over the Giants, the Ravens haven’t exactly been awe-inspiring of late. Their offense has struggled in large part to Ray Rice being limited by his own offensive coordinator and Joe Flacco’s inconsistency. But on in the second half on Sunday, Baltimore’s offense finally awoke from its month-long slumber. Anquan Boldin was marvelous. He essentially put the entire offense on his shoulders while harassing cornerback Cassius Vaughn of pass plays of 50, 46 and 21 yards. On a day when Ray Rice uncharacteristically put the ball on the ground twice, he stepped up when his offense needed him most. Credit the Ravens defense too, because they consistently came up with stops or held the Colts to three points when their backs were against the wall. This is a team built for the postseason and while Denver looks like an unstoppable force, don’t forget that Baltimore has often resembled an immovable object in the past. They’ll likely give Peyton Manning all he can handle next weekend.
10. Was anybody else left unfulfilled?
Life is all about expectations. The moment the final seconds ticked off the clock in Washington’s Week 17 victory over Dallas I immediately became excited for the weekend of playoff bliss that was ahead. RGIII vs. Russell Wilson? Adrian Peterson vs. Green Bay III? Andrew Luck making his first postseason start? Yes, please. Fast forward to Sunday night and I’m left completely unfilled. That just wasn’t a very sharp weekend of football. Cincinnati, Minnesota and Indianapolis all stunk. Washington came out of the gates hot but RGIII’s knee injury cooled that fire. Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco were good, but they were the only quarterbacks that played well. None of the games were blowouts by definition yet all four somehow managed to seem over well before the final whistle blew. After watching Northern Illinois, Kansas State and Oklahoma make a mockery of their bowl games, football fans were ready for a great weekend of NFL action. But instead we got three lackluster finishes and one game (Seattle-Washington) that barely would have caused a ripple on a regular NFL Sunday. “Meh” was the word of the weekend.
Posted in: NFL
Tags: A.J. Green, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Anquan Boldin, Arian Foster, Bill Musgrave, Christian Ponder, Cincinnati Bengals, Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jay Gruden, Joe Webb, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Schaub, Mike McCarthy, Mike Shanahan, Minnesota Vikings, NFL Playoffs, RGIII, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins
I’m Just Saying…the Black Eyed Peas are best left in the studio.
I’m just saying…
– Christina Aguilera had at least two weeks to prepare for the National Anthem and she still managed to change a word and skip an entire verse. Did someone forget to rub her the right way before she went out to midfield? Because you know you have to do that with her, right?
– What a game by Jordy Nelson: Nine catches, 140 yards receiving and one touchdown. Now imagine how good his numbers would have been had he not dropped two first down passes right in his hands.
– Speaking of drops…James Jones is lucky the Packers held on to the win because his drop in the third quarter was setting up to be the turning point in the game. Nobody can make a potential touchdown disappear faster than James Deandre Jones.
– I want to commend Bruce Arians for his decision to be aggressive when the Steelers were backed up to their own 7-yard line late in the first quarter. Rashard Mendenhall had just ripped the Packers for 24 yards on two carries in the previous series, so naturally Arians wanted to prove how smart he was by taking a shot downfield. Nick Collins and the Packers want to thank you for the gift, Bruce.
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Posted in: NFL, Super Bowl
Tags: Anthony Stalter, B.J. Raji, Ben Roethlisberger, Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl, Bruce Arians, Christina Aguilera National Anthem, Clay Matthews, James Jones drops, Nick Collins interception, Rashard Mendenhall, Shaun Suisham field goal, Super Bowl XLV, Troy Polamalu
Two factors that could doom the Packers or Bears
As we approach kickoff for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, here are two factors (one for each team) that could potentially keep the Packers or Bears from reaching the Super Bowl.
Green Bay Packers: Special Teams
Against the Falcons last week, the Packers dominated two of the three main phases of the game (offense and defense) but lost the third (special teams). After tying the score 7-7 early in the second quarter, Eric Weems returned a 102-yard kickoff for a touchdown against Green Bay’s shaky kickoff coverage. In Week 12, it was Weems’ 40-yard kickoff return and subsequent facemask penalty on Matt Willhelm that helped put the Falcons in position to kick a game-winning field goal in the final seconds.
In the Bears’ Week 3 win over the Pack, Devin Hester returned a punt 62 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown, which gave Chicago a 14-10 lead with 14 minutes to play. If there’s one area of concern for the Packers heading into this weekend, it has to be their special teams. They’re allowing 38.9 yards per punt attempt this season, which ranks them 26th in the league in that category. Granted, they rank first in kickoff touchback percentage (4.23%), but Weems proved last week that their coverage unit is liable to give up a big play at any time. Hester is a game-changer; the Packers better be prepared.
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Posted in: NFL
Tags: 2011 NFL Playoffs, Aaron Rodgers, Chicago Bears, Clay Matthews, Devin Hester, Eric Weems, Green Bay Packers, J'Marcus Webb, Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Mike Martz, Packers special teams, Packers vs Bears
NFL Week 17 MVP power rankings
Well, I’m pretty sure the announcement for NFL MVP comes down this weekend, so let me begin by saying that I was not influenced by anything that I read when making these picks…..
1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots—Brady, who is going to run away with this award, played about half a game last Sunday, and still threw for 199 yards with 2 TDs and 0 picks. He hasn’t thrown an interception since like early October.
2. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles—Vick did Brady a favor by not being in the lineup against Dallas in Week 17, but he and his coach know what’s more important, and that is for him and some nagging injuries, resting up for the Packers.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints—He wound up third in yards (4620) and tied for second in TDs (33) but uncharacteristically threw for 22 interceptions.
4. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts—4700 yards, 33 TDs, 17 picks. But most impressive is the way Peyton led his team to the postseason when things looked bleak.
5. Matt Cassel/Jamaal Charles/Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs—Cassel had a dreadful game in Week 17, but we stand by the fact that this was a trio that helped a young KC team win their division and a 4-seed.
6. Arian Foster, Houston Texans—Not only did he lead the league in rushing (1616 yards), but Foster added a whopping 66 receptions for 604 more yards—giving him 2220 yards from scrimmage and 18 TDs.
7. Matt Ryan/Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons—Well, at 13-3, someone had to be good for them to get there, especially with all of those come from behind wins.
8. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers—Finished with 3922/28/11 in 15 games, but what counts is leading his team to the postseason berth they deserve.
9. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers—If they could do last year’s draft over again, do you think Matthews would still be picked at #26?
10. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers—You know, he led the NFL in passing yards (4710) and had 30 TDs with 13 interceptions. He didn’t have Antonio Gates for a while, and he had Vincent Jackson for maybe two games. That’s why we can’t discount Rivers’ numbers.
11. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Bucs—We had to add one more. This kid is going to be a star. Oh wait, he already is. Freeman started every game and wound up with 3451 passing yards with 25 touchdown passes and just 6 interceptions. By comparison, Eli Manning had more than FOUR times as many picks.
Posted in: NFL
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Atlanta Falcons, Clay Matthews, Drew Brees, Dwayne Bowe, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jamaal Charles, Josh Freeman, Kansas City Chiefs., Matt Cassel, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, National Football League, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, NFL, NFL MVP, NFL MVP power rankings, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Philip Rivers, Roddy White, San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tom Brady