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Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Matthews on defensive help, thumb & more

By Rob Demovsky

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews hasn’t spoken to reporters since he broke his thumb for the second time in a little more than two months last December, but on Tuesday he was making the rounds on national radio and television on behalf of one of his sponsors, Campbell’s Soup.

So it was interesting to hear his take on several topics on both The Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio and on SiriusXM NFL radio.

Perhaps the most interesting point was one that has been on the forefront of most people’s minds since the Packers’ defensive collapse last season: How will the defense improve?

Matthews
Matthews said on SiriusXM that it was time for the defense to catch up with Aaron Rodgers and the offense.

“On the defensive side of the ball, we need to have more playmakers and get off the field more often and put the ball back into our offense’s hands,” Matthews said. “It’s a time for guys to step up and make a name for themselves, myself included, as well as hopefully adding a few guys through the draft.

“Any time you have a top-five offense, you need to back that up with a top-five defense, and we had that in our Super Bowl year. At times we carried our offense and at times they carried us, but over the past few years it’s been a little more offense dominated.”

Matthews acknowledged that there could be significant changes in personnel coming on defense, where the entire starting defensive line -- Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji -- is headed for free agency, along with cornerback Sam Shields.

Perhaps that’s why Matthews lobbied for more defensive help through the draft.

“Obviously being defensive minded and oriented, I hope they can provide another playmaker on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “As I’ve continued to say, our offense is doing fine just finishing top five every year. Now it’s our time to start picking up the slack, so I’d like to see a player anywhere on my side of the ball be able to help this team out.”

Here’s what Matthews had to say on the two shows on:

His thumb injury: “It’s been doing well. I’ve been getting physical therapy three times a week. I’ve been able to work out with a few limitations, but from talking with the doctors there shouldn’t be any limitations once next season rolls around. It’s just been a pain because obviously you look at it, it’s just a broken thumb. But it’s such an aggravating injury for a pass-rusher, especially in the manner in which I did it twice and having to have it surgically repaired twice, it doesn’t make it for an easy offseason in recovery.”

Losing his position coach Kevin Greene: “It was hard to see him leave because not only did he play this game but excelled at it, especially at outside linebacker in a 3-4, which is exactly what I play. He’s been very instrumental in my development through these first five years, and I’m excited about these next five years for myself. But I learned a great deal from him, and it will be interesting to see the direction of the linebackers in which we go now that the inside and outside linebackers are together within one room. Hopefully that will help with our continuity of working together and playing off one another and kind of seeing where that leads us. But ultimately it’s always sad to see a coach go, especially one that’s taught me so much, that’s been there since my rookie year. I think it’s just the nature of the game.”

NFL locker-room culture in light of the Miami Dolphins situation: “It’s part of the business, in all honestly. Guys are brought up from all over the country and different races, religions and sexual orientation. But that’s what makes the NFL locker room so great -- the fact that we all play for a common goal and you’re not judged on anything else. That’s what makes the locker room so tight, is that you can bring these guys from all over and make them one. Getting all philosophical, if the world could behave more like a locker room, I think there’d be less issues and less problems.”