Ryan Clark “Has to Be Better,” Deserves to Be Benched


Aug 19, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; A Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Ryan Clark (25) watches from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

"Last year playing Andy [Dalton] and watching the film I felt like he when looked somewhere that is where he was going, … I was waiting for a hitch-and-go.  That was an extremely good play call, but I have to be better than that.-Ryan Clark referring to Tyler Eifert’s reception of 61 yards"

Well you’re right about one thing, Ryan Clark.  You had to “be better” on that particular play.  Unfortunately, you had to “be better” multiple times last night and you failed miserably on almost every single occasion.

In addition to that reception which set up an easy touchdown, the free safety missed numerous tackles in the open-field to boot.  The “worst of the worst” however occurred when Clark took a horrible angle on Giovani Bernard’s go-ahead touchdown reception in the third quarter.  It was honestly one of the most piss-poor pieces of safety-play I have ever witnessed.

For a guy with Clark’s veteran experience, those types of physical and mental errors are nothing short of ridiculous.  In fact, I believe that the veteran’s piss-poor ball-skills and rapid decline in overall play should force him to the bench for the remainder of the 2013 regular season behind the likes of Shamarko Thomas and Robert Golden.

Just consider the following, readers:  Why should Dick LeBeau continue to start a 34 year-old safety who is more of a liability than anything else?

At this point, neither youngster should be forced to take a back-seat to the egos of their defensive coordinator and a rapidly declining veteran.

Both Golden and Thomas are not only more athletic than Clark is, but both are far and away superior as pass-defenders. The youngsters can not only chip in as slot cornerbacks, but they are also able to hold their own when it comes to supporting the run from the secondary as well.  While they might not be as experienced as Clark is at the moment, both players possesses the  physical tools and ball-skills to lend support on the back-end.

Golden and Thomas are part of this team’s rebuilding plans, Clark has illustrated with his play on the field that he does not deserve to be.  The Steelers need to award playing time during this “lost season” to guys who will actually matter and contribute beyond 2013, not someone who covers ground in the secondary about as well as Gilbert Grape’s mother.

Awarding extended playing time to an under-performing veteran who has one foot on the field and the other in the broadcast booth simply does everyone involved a disservice.  I just hope that members of Pittsburgh’s coaching staff will realize this fact before Clark costs them some more games this fall with his stone hands, lapses in coverage, bad angles, and missed tackles.

Stats & Info. Provided By: ESPN.comSteelers.com and Pro Football Reference

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