"Well any time we have one of these, you know it's a good day for the Rams."
That's how head coach Sean McVay began his opening statement during Los Angeles' introductory press conference for linebacker Clay Matthews, who officially signed his two-year deal with the Rams on Thursday.
Matthews — the Packers' all-time leader since the sack became official in 1982 with 83.5 — sat between McVay and general manager Les Snead to field questions about why he decided to come home to L.A. And the first thing he mentioned was how successful the team has been over the last couple years.
"It's truly remarkable in such a short amount of time — especially coming to L.A. So from a football standpoint, it makes perfect sense," Matthews said. "But for me personally, where I'm at in my career, having grown up in the area, living all of 20 minutes away from here, it made sense. We're building a house out here. I've got three kids now. I think my wife was more excited than I was to have signed with the Rams."
But more than that, Matthews noted that like Los Angeles' other free agent signings in safety Eric Weddle and backup quarterback Blake Bortles — this was the place where he wanted to be.
"It's obviously a new experience for me. I've been fortunate enough to be with the same organization for 10 years, so this was definitely new," Matthews said. "But as soon as my chance to return to Green Bay was kind of past me, I knew I wanted to come to the Rams. And I put it on my agent, and put it on these guys here to try to get something done. And fortunately the feeling was mutual, and they were very receptive to the idea. And I talked with [assistant head coach/linebackers coach] Joe Barry as well as Sean, just seeing how I'd fit within the defense — and it seemed like a perfect fit."
If you've followed Matthews' career, you likely know that he started out mainly as an edge rusher before moving to inside linebacker midway through. Now as he comes to Los Angeles, McVay said Matthews' role is going to be all about emphasizing his strengths.
"When you have a player that has that versatile skillset, you can utilize him in a variety of ways," McVay said. "I think, obviously, what he does at an extremely high level is when he's going forward and trying to affect and influence the quarterback, rushing the quarterback, setting the edge in the run game. So I think you'll see a lot of that. But then when you get into some of those known-passing situations, you can get creative with where you're moving him around."
"But those are exciting things for us as coaches to think through," McVay continued. "We've been spending a lot of time today even thinking about how you want to utilize him, how you can get Aaron [Donald], [Dante] Fowler, and some of these guys in situations to take advantage of the matchups you can create with players like that. So it's exciting, and it's something that's going to be evolving as we get more familiar with each other."
Check out the best photos of the new Los Angeles Rams linebacker Clay Matthews.
After describing his positional journey through the league, Matthews said he felt he excelled at both inside and outside linebacker.
"I thought when you allow me to play in space, and you allow me to go sideline to sideline downhill, good things are going to happen. So I expect it to be the same here. I expect my position to be fluid. I expect I'll have a variety of roles," Matthews said. "But I think the most important thing — kind of what Sean alluded to — is just pressing the quarterback, making him make bad decision, and keeping the heat, keeping the pressure on him."
And even though he'll turn 33 in May, Matthews feels he still has the ability to play at a high level in order to contribute to another run at an NFC West title in Los Angeles.
"I know I have the ability to produce like I've done before. And not to make excuses, but there was some change last year in the Packers organization, and, unfortunately, it didn't work out for me," Matthews said. "But as far as moving forward, I know I'm a difference-maker. I know I can change games and I look forward to doing that, and proving that, and showing to everybody here — you guys, the fans — that what you saw these past 10 years is what you'll get from these next two."