The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has struggled all season, and that is a bit of an understatement at times. One of the most glaring problems within that unit is the poor performance of Ryan Clark the entire season. Clark’s age and his hunger to sit and gab in the spotlight have put into question his ability to perform at a high level. Or at least at a level that he can make a tackle. The Houston Texans cut Ed Reed on Tuesday after Reed consistently struggled since returning from off-season surgery. Reed only played in seven games after missing the first two games. His ProFootballFocus.com overall defensive rating was a -6.3. Reed was not happy with the move and voiced his displeasure – essentially using his age as an excuse and his history as a shield.
So what does Ed Reed have to do with Ryan Clark? The simple fact that Ryan Clark is not and was not ever an Ed Reed, and now the Texans dumped Reed nine weeks into a three year $5.5 million/year contract should resonate with Steeler fans…. loudly. Clark has played over 300 more snaps than Reed and still has an overall defensive rating of -5.1. He has six negatively rated performances out of nine, and of the three that landed on the positive side of the scale only two were above a rating of +1. Clark is missing tackles, putting himself out of position, and taking bad angles to the ball/ball carrier. Sure he has 47 solo tackles on the season, but he also has nine missed tackles – some of the being plays that should have gone for little gain and turned into big ones.
If an athlete of Reed’s stature and history aren’t enough to keep him on a team when his ability declines, then why should the Steelers even consider keeping someone like Clark on the field? Yes, The Shark has an ankle injury that is keeping him out of this Sunday’s contest against the Lions and perhaps even longer. So, by default Clark needs to stick around. But if someone like Ed Reed, who sits up at the top right there with Troy Polamalu as one of the best safeties to ever play the game, then how in the wild world of sports does Ryan Clark get a pass week to week and run his mouth the way he does?
When Thomas is back, give Clark the boot. It’s that simple.