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Butch Dill / AP Photo

Houston brings back memories of family and faith for Falcons'
Jake Matthews
before Super Bowl

By Tyler Dunne, BleacherReport.com

  Jake Matthews was in the fourth grade.

  He was with his father, Bruce Matthews, sitting out on the land his family owned in Houston.

  This moment between his father and him changed his life forever.

  "We were having a really close father-son moment where I basically put my faith in the Lord, and I was with him for that," Matthews said on Tuesday.

  It's a moment that comes to mind for Matthews when thinking about his family, a prominent bunch when it comes to football. His cousin, Clay Matthews, is a six-time Pro Bowl linebacker with the Green Bay Packers, and Matthews had to beat him to get into Super Bowl LI. His father and brothers played in the NFL, and so did his uncle. His grandfather, H.L. Matthews, began the football dynasty.

  Matthews spoke about his family and faith in an ice skating rink in a local mall that had been melted so it could hold Super Bowl Media Day, just miles from where he grew up. It was a mall where he shopped as a kid.

  "It's cool to be in my home city. We're driving around in the bus and recognizing everything. It's exciting, let alone that we're playing in the Super Bowl, and I get to do it in my hometown," he said.

  Jake was taken by Atlanta in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft

 While the name Matthews represents greatness when it comes to the pigskin, he emphasizes that his family pushed him in no particular direction when it came to his life. Rather, they pushed him in his faith.

  "Everyone says, 'Oh, you were probably forced to play football. Everyone expected so much of you.' I've had nothing but a loving family that has nurtured me and supported me, help me grow in Christ. I love them to death for that."

  Matthews is an outspoken Christian. One reporter pointed out to him that the largest number of prison inmates ever would get to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday and asked him what his message to them is.

  "Something that I live by is-- Christ calls us in everything we do, to do it with all of our heart as if we're doing it for him and not for man. I take a lot of pride in that because the support you get from this world, yeah it's nice when it's here, but it's fleeting. Having Christ to fallback on is everlasting."

~ from 11alive.com ~
 


Jake with cousin Clay Matthews of Green Bay

Falcons’ Jake Matthews falls back on family experience

By Ray Glier, Boston Globe
 

  Jake Matthews was rated one of the worst tackles in the NFL in 2014. He had counsel for that.

  He had to play with an injury through most of that rookie season. Matthews had a wise man, or two, to help him handle that.

  He had to endure the “first-round bust” barbs after allowing seven sacks and 35 hurries. Matthews, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Texas A&M, had somebody to lean on for that noise.
  When he suffered a serious foot injury at the end of the 2015 season and there was the “here we go again, Matthews is hurt” talk, well, he could find somebody to talk to about staying with his recovery regimen and not rushing back.

  Whatever fate could conjure up for the Atlanta left tackle, there was 60 years of guidance and intelligence sitting close by, or a phone call away. His grandfather, Clay Matthews, played in the NFL in the 1950s. His father, Bruce Matthews, played in the NFL for 19 seasons. His uncle, Clay Matthews Jr., also played in the NFL 19 years, the last three with these Atlanta Falcons.

  The kid has some football capital in the bank.

  “If you can play, and it is still structurally good to go, get out there and do it,” Matthews said. “That’s the way my dad did it and that’s how he taught us. I talk to my dad all the time. He is very influential on how I handle myself and how I play. He’s had all the injuries and he’s played with them, too. He’s a good person to talk to about that.”

  Matthews has settled into being a left tackle you can trust in the NFL, which is important when you consider Matthews is the blocker on the backside for Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, a favorite to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award. And, now, they're ready to line up against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

  Matthews and center Alex Mack are the stalwarts on a line that cleared a path for the NFL’s best offense in 2016. The Atlanta front five — Matthews, left guard Andy Levitre, Mack, right guard Chris Chester, and right tackle Ryan Schraeder — are the only five-man unit in the NFL to start every game in the 2016 regular season. Matthews is the youngest of the group.

  “Some of the stuff he has been through, for me, personally it would be tough to go through,” Schraeder said. “You have to commend him on his grit and just to grind through stuff.”

  This Sunday Matthews gets to go home to Houston to play in his hometown when the Falcons (13-5) play the Patriots. Matthews grew up on the southwest side of the city, a 15-minute ride to NRG Stadium.

  “Going back to the town where I was born and raised and where my dad played for so long, it really is a blessing,” Matthews said. Bruce Matthews played for the Houston Oilers, who became the Tennessee Titans (1983-2001).

  Two Sundays earlier, after the Falcons beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, Bruce Matthews was interviewed on the Georgia Dome field with his son. The senior Matthews played in the 1999-season Super Bowl with the Titans — on the Georgia Dome field. The Titans lost to the St. Louis Rams, 23-16.

  “It was a really cool moment, he and I got interviewed together,” Jake Matthews said. “He said, ‘It took me 17 years to win my first AFC Championship and make it the Super Bowl, and it took you three.’ He was a little envious of that. He never won one; this is my chance to win one.”

  The Falcons will try and win with the only offense in the NFL that can come close to the Patriots as far as pages in the playbook and intricacies. The Falcons mix it up for 60 minutes with wide zone plays, tight zone plays, drop back, play-action pass, and screens. Atlanta uses 10 receivers and two feature running backs.

  Besides protecting Ryan, the play Matthews most excels at is the wide zone run with 5-foot-9-inch Devonta Freeman. The 309-pound tackle can not only scoot to the second level, he is on tape getting to the third level banging on a safety and paving for Freeman.

  “It’s a team thing,” Matthews said. “We prepare so well, we’re just really confident against whatever look we get. Just look at the athletes we have with this offense, all the different talent we can get the ball to. It’s a dream for an offensive lineman.”

  The Falcons have averaged 34.4 points per game. Matthews survived the calamity of the 2014 season and more and more he is looking like his father, Bruce, whom he has idolized since he started playing the game.

  “Keep growing and getting better,” Matthews said of his approach.

  That mind-set is on a page somewhere in the Matthews manual for playing in the NFL.

~ from The Boston Globe ~

 

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