Clay Matthews: League is “getting soft”

AP

Everyone except the league disagreed with Clay Matthews‘ hit on Kirk Cousins last week. Even Cousins said it was a “probably a generous call.”

Matthews said afterward that penalties are “out of control.”

On Sunday, after a similar — yet different — roughing penalty on Alex Smith, the Packers linebacker said the league is “getting soft.”

“Obviously, I don’t agree with it again,” Matthews said, via Michael Cohen of The Athletic. “Whereas last week I thought I hit the quarterback correctly, head was to the side again, wrapped him up and you see as soon as I hit the ground you see me try and pull my hands out. Obviously when you’re tackling a guy from the front, you’re going to land on him. I understand the spirit of the rule. I said that [in] weeks prior. When you have a hit like that, that’s a football play. I even went up to Alex Smith after the game and asked him, ‘What do you think? What can I do differently?’ Because that’s a football play. Like I said last week, the NFL’s going to come back and say I put my body on him. But that’s a football play. I hit him from the front, got my head across, wrapped up. I’ve never heard of anybody tackling somebody without any hands. When he gives himself up as soon as you hit him, your body weight’s going to go on him. I think we’re looking for the hits that took Aaron [Rodgers] out last year, that little extra. If I wanted to hurt him, I could’ve. I could have put some extra on him, but that’s football. I don’t know. I really don’t know.

“Unfortunately, this league is going in a direction I think a lot of people don’t like. I think they’re getting soft. The only thing hard about this league is the fines that they levy down on guys like me who play the game hard. I don’t know. I’m just going to keep playing hard. Maybe now pass rushers and guys getting after the quarterback, you just have to attack the ball. I’ve been playing this game for over 20 years. That’s how you tackle. So we’ll see. I mean, something’s got to change because the league’s not. . . . Like I said last week, these are big plays. So disappointed. I tried to change from last week and still get the flag. It’s unfortunate.”

Matthews had roughing penalties in each of the first two games but was not fined for either hit.

His hit on Cousins last week allowed the Vikings’ new life. Instead of a Packers’ victory, the game ended in a tie as it wiped out an interception by Jaire Alexander. The league used the play as a “teaching tool” for teams last week.

The league office already has posted an explanation on Twitter for Matthews’ penalty today, saying the foul occurred because Matthews landed “with all or most of the defender’s weight” on Washington quarterback Alex Smith.

125 responses to “Clay Matthews: League is “getting soft”

  1. I hate the packers, but aaron Rodgers had the same thing happen to him earlier in the game… no penalty, I don’t know what’s a personal foul and what isn’t anymore

  2. It’s the new rule, Clay. Get used to it. The nfl isn’t budging. I find it hilarious the fans and players are only now upset about this rule when the rule as written demonstrated how bad it would be for the league before the season started. Nobody is even talking about the helmet rule anymore.

  3. I’m a Redskin fan. That call was BS. Everyone in the Redskin’s bar I watched the game in thought it was BS. It’s a form tackle. If this keeps up. I’m going to have to find some other way to spend my Sundays.

  4. Of course his full body weight falls on the QB -that is what things tend to do when they go up in the air, they fall. It’s called gravity, it’s been around for, like, a thousand years at least.

  5. I agree with him that the league is soft. Football is a contact sport, and although I agree with dirty hits being illegal, this is how they teach to tackle starting from the beginning. I am not going to keep watching this garbage week in and week out anymore. It isn’t fun to watch anymore!

  6. The NFL is making a mistake with these new calls.

    This is Mr. Whipple’s NFL.

    Don’t squeeze the Charmin!

  7. dont know what a catch is, dont know what a tackle is, paying guys almost 2 million per game when the average fan cant even afford ticket anymore. The Not For Long league isnt going to keep people glued to the Tv for too much longer.

  8. Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9(b) does NOT apply in this case. The NFL should have consulted with its lawyers before rushing out an incorrect defense of these zebras. Rule 12.2.9b only applies to passers in a defenseless posture. The rulebook specifically states “during the pass” and “after the pass” are the only times a passer is in a defenseless posture (and therefore cannot be driven into the ground). Alex Smith never attempted a pass as you may recall. Your move Riveron. But remember, I keep an NFL rulebook on my coffee table at all times. Do not try lying to me again.

  9. What makes it worse is that there was a much more blatant “full weight on the Quarterback” by a Washington player on Rodgers that was uncalled. Please NFL, put those two on film and teach me.

  10. Clay plays hard, arguably dirty by today’s standards, but really, a basic head-on tackle, Matthews hits him head up and past the body, full shoulder contact;

    somebody please tell me just where is his weight supposed to land?

    when will the NFL be putting flags on their quarterbacks?

  11. Will never tune in my television to another NFL game again. If it’s playing at a sports bar, I’m willing to watch but from this moment forward I will not help increase television ratings for the outlandish NFL refs and their erroneous calls.

    Love Jimi.

  12. This rule changed because of the hit that hurt Rogers last year… can’t not call it in a game that he is playing in. I don’t like it either but the rule is the rule

  13. Wasn’t this rule implemented because of Aaron Rodgers in jury last year?

    Packers 2017: that hit by Barr should be outlawed!!! Can’t risk the QBs… Need new rules

    Packers 2018: these new rules are dumb, QBs have too much protection.

  14. Go back to the weeping and gnashing of teeth by Rodgers, McCarthy, and Packer management on a hit OUT OF THE POCKET while he was running, and you will see the cause of this rule.
    Be careful what you ask for.

  15. I was watching some old NFL video clips from the 70’s. It was unrecognizable from today’s game. These guys went out of their way to not just tackle but punish…

  16. Totally agree with clay on this. Nfl has been ruining the leauge for years making it all offense. Defenses need to revolt and every single one of them stay on the sidelines for a play or two each week. This is ridiculous. I for one rather they put skirts on the offenses or just go right to flag football because this isnt football this is a bunch Of B.S.

  17. By the new rule it was a clear penalty, he drove him in the ground and put his weight on him. So by the rule it was clear.

  18. scottstotts370798231 says:
    September 23, 2018 at 5:29 pm
    It’s the new rule, Clay. Get used to it. The nfl isn’t budging. I find it hilarious the fans and players are only now upset about this rule when the rule as written demonstrated how bad it would be for the league before the season started. Nobody is even talking about the helmet rule anymore.
    ==================
    Well that isn’t even remotely true. One got lots of attention merely because the refs made it a point of emphasis in the preseason. As such got “revised” because it was a horrible rule. If the roughing the passer was emphasized the same way in the preseason we’d probably be looking at yet another “revision”. Mathews is 100% correct. There were more examples of this rule being legislated incorrectly than just Mathews this week as well.

  19. Plenty if good games with less penalties on saturdays, football fans. Turn it on on saturdays and turn this garbage on sundays off. I’ve had it.

  20. I’m done with football. I may come back when it’s two hand touch on the QB. These last two calls on Mathews are a complete joke. You can’t hot the QB below the waste, touch above the shoulders, can’t lead with the helmet, can’t land on him, can’t wrap up in case his feet come off the ground making it look as if you lifted him. If the QB doesn’t duck and give himself up, your lucky to get a sack without a penalty. No one watching the game knows what is and isn’t a penalty anymore and the league supports these calls. Fan for 45 years, season ticket holder, name on the stadium, watched every game in my life except when deployed in Afghanistan. And I will not watch next week. And don’t plan on watching again this year. This league is a joke.

  21. steverolley says:

    September 23, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Wasn’t this rule implemented because of Aaron Rodgers in jury last year?

    Packers 2017: that hit by Barr should be outlawed!!! Can’t risk the QBs… Need new rules

    Packers 2018: these new rules are dumb, QBs have too much protection.

    ——————————–
    The overwhelming majority of fans agreed the Varr hit was legal. Just sucked that we lost our QB for it.

    Rodgers himself has stated he doesn’t like these rules.

  22. As a Bears fan, I say that was a garbage call and the Packers got worked. And I’m not the slightest happy about it either, football is slowly devolving into two hand touch intramurals.

  23. At the end of the day, we beat ourselves with the penalties,dropped balls, shaky protections, lousy late run defense and a secondary that stunk mostly. We can blame refs, God or whatever else you want but ultimately it comes down to a coaching staff and personnel department that just has been content with throwing garbage around our GOAT QB….

  24. For all of you who think these plays are good calls your insane. You millianals looking at you. They have no idea what football is you have never seen real football be played or played in it. It’s not a game for the weak or feeble.

  25. Clay has been borderline dirty for years but these calls on him are wrong! As a Viking fan I hate to say it, but Clay is doing it the right way and getting called every time.

    It all started last year with Barr putting Aaron out and now it has gone extremely crazy the other way. In trying to over protect the QB the NFL is ruining the game we all enjoy. I wonder what Dennis Green would haves said about these calls? Maybe “they are what we thought they were”!

  26. The NFL Office has ruined the game with a rule. How are you supposed to tackle a quarterback from the front? Maybe just put your arms around him and hold him up? SMH

  27. Turned it off last week..didnt put on a game this week. checked here for some updates and it looks like more of the sad state of a flag fest of an unwatchable product.

    rainy day in the northeast… used to be a great day to watch football. its a movie day for me. great job nfl.

  28. These types rules are coasting teams games, no answer to why one crew calls a foul and three plays later ignored. More and more rules against the defense and when they make a football play get flagged and then fined. NFL keeps making rules that cannot and aren’t consistent in what the officials see and can’t helped themselves to throw a flag.

  29. jcaulfield8 says:
    September 23, 2018 at 5:28 pm
    I hate the packers, but aaron Rodgers had the same thing happen to him earlier in the game… no penalty, I don’t know what’s a personal foul and what isn’t anymore
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    That would appear to be the intent of the new rules

  30. Green Bay fans are the biggest hypocrites.
    They demand a rule change because of their qbs injury, but are all now whining about the penalties.

    Are you all willing to admit your over reaction from 2017?
    >>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<
    I don't know one Packer fan that clamored for a rule change after the Tony Barr tackle of Rodgers last year. It was a play that could have been flagged for roughing the passer under the then, current rule, but wasn't….end of story. And I'm not saying that's wrong.
    Now we have the Tony Barr Rule that disallows, I guess, leaving your feet and placing all of the weight on a QB when tackling them. Fine. If I'm the Packer's coaching staff however, I don't change one damn thing about how these linebackers/linemen are to tackle the QB. The only over reaction was by the rules committee.

  31. Let’s make something clear. It was not the Packers fans, Coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers organization or Aaron Rodgers that lobbied the league for a rules change. They did that of their own volition. Is the NFL trying to protect its stars? Probably. Most Packers fans I know hate that Rodgers got hurt but don’t blame Barr. That’s part of the game. Look beyond your hate, jealousy, whatever it is, over Aaron Rodgers. It was Roger Goodells NFL that sent us down this path.

  32. Erin (made of glass) Rodgers whined non stop from the minute he got hurt that they needed rules to stop defenders from landing on them.

    NFL institutes rule to keep Erin (made of glass) rodgers safe from being landed on.

    Roid Mathews whines he cant land on QB’s any softer.

    Erin (made of glass) rodgers whines that the new rule is bad.

    The refs called the play correctly BY THE RULES (the erin made of glass rodgers rule). Roid mathews just needs to go talk to glass rodgers about why he is getting flagged.

  33. Owners are fine with this BS as it protects their 100 million dollar investment in a single player. If Trump really wanted to Make America Great Again, he would team up with Putin and start a new league that played gladiator football again. Until then, everything sucks. Sundays suck, the beer is weak, and the cheese dip isn’t fit for the dog. I hate the NFL.

  34. he clearly had his body weight land on Smith. This was very similar to the Barr hit on Rodgers, in that Barr’s weight landed on Rodgers shoulder, and this time Mathhews weight landed on Smith’s shoulder. Watch the replay. It appeared that Smith got slammed slightly to the ground. You can’t do that anymore. It’s the rule. I don’t like the rule but it’s the rule. This rule is a ban on tackling quarterbacks. It’s now worse than the so called “catch rule” that nobody understands. This one is more convoluted because what is “body weight” considered? what is “intimidating”? read the rule. it’s terrible. but it’s the rule now. teams have to adjust accordingly or they are just going to be complaining.

  35. The new rule was made by Roger to ensure they had a way to fix Pats games when they started dominating too much.

  36. Just put a dress on them…and a flag so players can pull the flag so the precious QBs never have to get hit. Oh, and they’d probably start calling defenders for pulling the flag too hard.

  37. You can legislate injuries…the NFL was at its peak in 80’s and 90’s…when men played and didn’t whine, and refs and challenges weren’t determining games

  38. The NFL made the rule, and the NFL interprets the rule- the NFL is to blame. Aaron Rodgers nor any other player is capable of making a rule.

  39. “I think we’re looking for the hits that took Aaron [Rodgers] out last year, that little extra.” Even Matthews still can’t get over Barr’s legal tackle of Rodgers last year. The whining done by Rodgers, Packer fans, et al are to thank for the bs rules that the NFL has now. Thanks for ruining the league.

  40. …..Most Packers fans I know hate that Rodgers got hurt but don’t blame Barr……

    I don’t know one Packer fan that clamored for a rule change after the Tony Barr tackle of Rodgers last year. It was a play that could have been flagged for roughing the passer under the then, current rule, but wasn’t….end of story
    —————-
    Sorry, but I don’t buy these two view points AT ALL.

    I know of dozens of packer fans claiming it was a dirty hit and wanted a penalty. Under the 2017 rule it was NOT a penalty because AR was out of the pocket. A referee even told the Vikings at training camp that this year that hit on AR would be a penalty. Which means it wasn’t a penalty in 2017.

    It is a horrible rule. And it’s because of the Rodgers injury. End of story.

  41. Too many penalties overall. It looks bad when officiating crews seem to officiate differently. Maybe it depends on the spread and who the league has an agreement with the mob on who should win and who should cover and who should lose. It looks suspicious to me. Lots of weird things happening since the gambling ruling.

  42. I blame this on the coach. Even he doesn’t get the new rule change so he’s not training his team how to handle it. This is why the Packers have wasted a HOF QB and why the Patriots are in the SB every year.

  43. The officiating is as bad as ever, but the calls coming in from Al Riveron in the league head office really have me concerned. If the refs don’t have the final say in any game are we not drifting dangerously into pro wrestling territory here? Goodell can finally get that “parity” across the league he has so desperately sought for years and then the league office can dictate the playoff finals that most suit the ratings. Of course, I could be wrong, but just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you.

  44. Clay has had plenty of dirty or borderline hits in his career, but that call today was a joke. At first, I thought he caught him with his helmet, but you can see him consciously NOT hit him in the helmet or with his own helmet.

  45. Agreed. If the NFL wants a 2 hand touch game they should of invested a little more $ in the ladies lingerie league. Wait they actually hit harder with out getting a flag. Think I’ll change channels now.

  46. Can we please point out these are the same fans, the same Packer players, who whined and cried when Anthony Barr sacked Aaron Rodgers last year breaking his collarbone in a move where Barr put LESS OF HIS BODY’S WEIGHT on the qb, then Clay Matthews has done BOTH times. Packer fans + Clay=HYPOCRIT

  47. If I were coaching peewee football I would use last weeks play and this weeks play as an instructional video on what a text book tackle looks like.

  48. I am so done with people brining up the Barr hit… He drove Rogers into the ground two seconds after the ball was gone. Smith still had the ball in his hands when Mathews hit him cleanly. Also its not the Rogers rule… Its the Barr rule, he caused all this.

  49. “where Barr put LESS OF HIS BODY’S WEIGHT on the qb, then Clay Matthews has done BOTH times.”

    This is so delusional it just HAS to be posted by a Vikings fan. The Barr hit wasn’t and shouldn’t have been a penalty, but he did put a little extra oomph into it, whereas Matthews has tried to lessen the fall both weeks.

  50. Goodell has a vendetta against Clay Matthews and the Packers. Matthews has been a clean player his entire career. Wish I could have watched the game but the Fox station here thought it would be amusing to play some non-football related programming instead of the Packers.

  51. My wife is an AVID lifelong Redskins fan, and we both agreed the foul called on Matthews was just a terrible call. If the League wants the NFL to become a flag football league then say so, but as far as I know it’s still SUPPOSED to be called TACKLE football. Many more horrible calls like this and folks will be doing something else on Sundays other than wasting time watching the rules and the refs ruin what once was a great game. Goodell and his buddies are out of control. Owners, beware… these rules, controversies, and bad calls are going to be the end of the NFL….

  52. I have to agree with Clay on this. The league acts like the QB is the only player out there. The first series in the Vikes/Bills game, our defense had them 3rd and long, we sacked him. As the first player grabbed Allen, Joseph came in, Allen lowered his head, Joseph barely bumped helmets, and that gave the Bills momentum.

    I give the Bills credit, they came to play and the Vikes didn’t, but the league is making a mockery out of this game, and I’m just about to turn my back on this game.

  53. If you’re gonna get called for a penalty no matter what you do, then you might as well head hunt or dive at knees to knock out the qb.

    The way the NFL is calling it, there’s no incentive for the defense not to do that.

    You can call it callous or wrong or amoral, but’s reality. It’s naive to think some defensive players aren’t seeing what’s going on and reaching that conclusion.

    And it’s 100% the NFL’s own fault for being short sided and stupid.

  54. By the new rule it was a clear penalty, he drove him in the ground and put his weight on him. So by the rule it was clear.

    —————————————————–

    What game were you watching??

  55. After every big play you have to hold your breath for 30 seconds to see if its gonna get reversed by the refs. These new convoluted rules are taking out the excitement of the game. If I want to watch sketchy officiating and popularity contests ill go watch the NBA.

  56. Notice how all the really dumb posts are from Viking fans? I don’t think I’d be running my mouth if my team just got embarrassed by the bills.

  57. Terrible just terrible. I can’t believe the NFL has turned into such a wuss league….when the QB’s involved in the last to weeks Cousins & Smith say it’s not a penalty…whatever just sucks that it’s getting so close to stop watching altogether.

  58. mattyork1972 says:
    September 23, 2018 at 6:27 pm
    Flviking
    how did those vikes do today. Blown our at home by the Bill’s Yikes

    ///////////////

    The Bills totally embarrassed the Vikings. What does that have to do with Caveman Matthews? This is the third straight week he has been penalized. The packers could be 0-3 because of that. Quit complaining about the rule and learn it.

  59. Lets face it, these rules arein place for playrs safety but even more for lawsuit issues. We all want our teams to be warriors, blood thirsty gladiators. But when you see one of your favorite players from years ago, slurring, stammering and not fully aware of their facilities, even the most hard core fans have to ask was it worth it. From guys like Andre Waters to Dwight Clark to Ken Stabler and so many others. I felt bad for Clay. He was brought up playing the game the right way and now the league is painting him as a dirty player with the fines associated with the penalty.

  60. amurdora says:
    September 23, 2018 at 5:28 pm
    This is what happens when TV executives demand the NFL protect their ratings.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This.

    It explains the why they are doing it but the NFL is fully responsible for the how they are doing it and THAT part has been absurd.. Stop acting like clean plays are bad and just go after the headhunters. You get an extra guy flying over in a dog-pile scenario and landing full weight, fine, call it but leave the legit tackles alone. You cannot tackle someone full speed and then defy gravity on the way to the ground. If the NFL wants to protect QBs with ridiculous calls like these then they need to start calling “in the grasp” the moment a QB gets touched.

  61. Broken Skydiver says:
    September 23, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I am so done with people brining up the Barr hit… He drove Rogers into the ground two seconds after the ball was gone. Smith still had the ball in his hands when Mathews hit him cleanly. Also its not the Rogers rule… Its the Barr rule, he caused all this.

    ÷÷÷÷÷÷

    You’re so done with people bringing up the Barr hit, but then you bring it up in the very next words you type. Wouldn’t expect anything less from a Packer fan.

    Stop watching that play in slow motion while you time it in real time. That is the only way you get to two seconds from when Rodgers released the ball to when Barr hit him. Either that or you need to take off your green-tinted glasses and try to be the least bit subjective. It was a bang-bang play and it resulted in the Rodgers rule. Thanks to the Diva football has been ruined.

  62. imonfire2niteoyeah says:
    September 23, 2018 at 8:51 pm
    If he’s going to get a penalty anyway he might as well body slam the qb and get him out of the game.
    _______________________
    Ala Charles Martin on Jim McMahon? lol. Met Martin at a strip bar in West Allis WI shortly after that incident. He seemed out of place in that dive on a slow night and didn’t want to discuss the body slam even though we reassured him we were Packer fans. Lucky him or his entourage didn’t beat us up. It turned out he was too cool for school anyways.

  63. Sorry, but Clay is right. The roughing calls on him the last two weeks are ridiculous. The one on Kendrick’s a week ago was also a bad call. I am sure there were more cases of this in other games these last few weeks as well.

    As Vikings fan, I can not be accused of being biased in favor of the Packers, but as a football fan there comes a time when you have to put the game itself ahead of the rivalries. The rivalries are meant to be fun, but it is less fun no matter what team you are a fan of when the league starts enforcing rules in a boneheaded way.

    I can understand rules to protect hits to the head or knees of a quarterback, as they are set to pass, but what they are doing right now it paramount to saying QBs can not be tackled at all without risking a penalty. What they want is unrealistic and not needed. Penalize and fine the egregious cases where they really pick up and slam down the QB and let them make these normal tackles.

  64. He’s right…..the games are just unwatchable…..its all about the next penalty not the next first down…

  65. alleycat702 says:
    September 23, 2018 at 8:10 pm
    This, among many reasons, is why I’m not watching much football any more.
    ========================
    I’ve seconded this motion.

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