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Falcons' Jake Matthews motivated by pride, not his contract


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    Vaughn McClure
  • ESPN Staff Writer


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews, the sixth-overall pick in the 2014 draft, knows he needs to elevate his play entering his fourth season.

Matthews has had his share of good moments, including an outstanding second season, showing why he is trusted to protect Matt Ryan. But there have been some noticeable hiccups over the past three years, some related to Matthews having to rebound from significant injuries.

The Falcons have already picked up Matthews' fifth-year option at a value of $12.5 million for 2018. And once the 2017 season ends and Matthews moves into his option year, there will be discussions about a contract extension and his value.

The Falcons already rewarded undrafted right tackle Ryan Schraeder with a five-year, $31.5 million extension ($12.5 million guaranteed), and Schraeder has gotten more national recognition for his play than Matthews over the past year.

What outsiders say, however, is not a motivating factor for Matthews.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well," he said. "I'm not going to change anything. I come out here and try to work hard and get better every day. It's not like, 'Oh, now it's time, with a fifth-year option and a new contract to come.' I'm going to go out there and play the best I can every time. It doesn't matter."

The coaches certainly want Matthews to be more physical and dominate like a top-10 pick. One of the areas of emphasis is holding up better against bull rushes.

"I've done a pretty good job so far in [training] camp here," Matthews said of working against bull rushes. "It's hard blocking guys on the edge. They've got a ton of options. That's my job, though. That's what they brought me in here to do, and I feel confident in doing it.

"There's always stuff to learn. You're going to have a play here and there that isn't the way you want it to go. But that's part of the game. It's all about how you bounce back and get it done and end up winning."

Matthews was asked which player has been the toughest bull-rusher he's faced.


"Let's keep it in the family: I'd go with my cousin, Clay," Jake Matthews said of Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews. "He knows how to bring a good bull rush. He's a good pass-rusher. Yeah, I always enjoy going against him."

Offensive line coach Chris Morgan talked about his expectations of Matthews.


"You know, Jake has a couple of things he needs to work on, just like everybody else," Morgan said "He knows what they are. The point-of-attack tapes [coach Dan Quinn] talked about, he's got a couple of things on there. And he's putting the work in right now. He's really working hard to address them.

"We've got a couple of issues that we're trying to clean up on the back side of the run game. We've got a couple of things with hand placement in protection. Couple things like that. But Jake is a talented guy, for sure. He's working hard and he's grinding along."

Matthews is not going to dwell on his mistakes. That's why the costly holding penalty in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl loss to New England is something he says he never thinks about.

"We've moved past all that stuff," he said. "Now it's on to this season."




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His arm length falls in the low end of the acceptable range, but I think it hurts him against some of the league's best.

Even if hes not the elite caliber player we thought we were drafting, he is certainly good enough to keep. 

LT is sooo hard to find good help at, and he is at least good enough.

If someone good slides in the next year or so, I could see us drafting OT early again and sliding Jake inside to guard.

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Been on the "Jake Matthews is overrated" train a while. He's serviceable on most days an goes to good sometimes, but far from the "Top of his position" some folks have said he was. Can you believe some folks thought he'd be on the top 100??? :lol: His position value is what keeps him around. But given the players we passed on to get him Im always going to expect more than ok from him

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He hasn't played like a LT top-6 draft pick; he's at a minimum the 3rd best Falcons this century. That's the conundrum for ATL...not as good as he needs to be to earn his status, waaaay better than what the team had been dealing with.

As others have noted, the penalties at crucial times are the biggest problem. When the key strength on your resume is "comes from a family of NFL players," it's reasonable to expect you'll play smarter and not hurt the team at key moments with killer penalties.

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7 hours ago, ATLSlobberKnockers said:

Good. Cuz he shouldn't get too excited about a contract. He shouldn't make a dime more than Master Schraeder. He is going to end up being the odd man out on the second contracts. 

Like a QB, generally you don't move on from a good LT unless you have a better one waiting. I highly doubt he is let to leave

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7 hours ago, Vandy said:

How some of you must long for the bad ole days of Lamar Holmes and Jeremy Trueblood.


oh yeah because clearly my thinking Jake Matthews isn't worth that kind of money must mean that I would prefer an even worse starting LT.

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5 hours ago, ya_boi_j said:

Only knock I have on him is the penalties. Him and Alford must have some sort of bet

Good thought. The fan board should have this bet. Who gets the first then most penalties each game, Matthews or Alford? Hopefully, those two would hear about this and make it go away!!!!!!!!

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3 hours ago, Kayoh said:

oh yeah because clearly my thinking Jake Matthews isn't worth that kind of money must mean that I would prefer an even worse starting LT.

Oh Yeah, because better starting LT's who are less costly are just out there everywhere to be had. Its exactly that kind of "thinking" that can derail the good thing falcons have going. See Seahawks offense ever since they got dumb and cheap and blew up their OL. 

TD knows what he's doing. Plus you guys act like it's your money he's spending. 

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3 minutes ago, Vandy said:

Oh Yeah, because better starting LT's who are less costly are just out there everywhere to be had.

TD knows what he's doing. you guys act like it's your money he's spending. 

Just looking at 2018 and not including other rookie contracts since that's kind of cheating (although Taylor Lewan is still a better player than Jake, he would be making the same amount if we picked him at 6)

Andrew Whitworth: $12,166,666
Jason Peters: $11,666,666
Riley Reiff: $11,400,000
David Bakhtiari: $11,200,000
Jared Veldheer: $10,250,000
Joe Thomas: $10,000,000
Duane Brown: $9,750,000
Joe Staley: $7,700,000

Every last one of them is better than Jake and will be making less than him in 2018.

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