As the face of the Green Bay Packers defense, Clay Matthews helps set the tone for the entire team. After a 5-3 start that, despite its winning record, was below the team's expectations, Matthews and the Packers used last week's bye week to mentally reset and focus on a grueling second half of the season.
Matthews also took some time to speak with ThePostGame about how Green Bay's identity will affect its success going forward, as well as the challenges that are bound to crop up over the course of eight more regular-season games.
ThePostGame: The Packers have had some slow starts to seasons in the past before recovering and finishing strong. How would you characterize this year's start?
MATTHEWS: I'm going on my sixth year with the Packers, and every year has its own advantages and challenges. This year is no different. We had an early-season loss to a division rival in Detroit, then we were getting on a real roll before coming up short against New Orleans.
We're 5-3 now with a good opportunity to make the playoffs. We play, I think, seven out of eight games in cold weather, and five games at home. As with all years prior, we expect to finish strong.
TPG You talked about needing to figure out what type of team Green Bay is. How important is identity to a football team? How do you develop that?
MATTHEWS: I think it’s really important. That way, you don't just go out there and go with the flow. In this case, ours is a team that likes to put pressure on defenses by scoring early and often. We air it out and score with one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
But we have to understand that we're a team that can get after the quarterback and cause chaos. That said, there's more to it. We need to communicate well and work in unison.
TPG: You would think that, with so much consistency year-to-year on the Packers roster, that the identity would maintain itself. What causes that identity change from season to season?
MATTHEWS I think sometimes, as you go through the season, it's a real roller coaster. It's a long season of attrition. You have to continue to remind yourself about how you go about practice and meetings.
We'll come back out there [Sunday], and we have a great opportunity national televised game [against Chicago in prime time]. We expect to get back to winning ways.