By: Steve Balestrieri
One of the biggest questions for the New England Patriots heading into the 2013 season is how the offense will evolve with a fleet of new wide receivers and specifically how Tom Brady will adjust to not having the reliable Wes Welker on the field.
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark was asked this on Monday during ESPN’s NFL Live and responded with his thoughts on this by saying that Brady at times, “sees ghosts,” and had some interesting comments about Danny Amendola as well.
Clark, it should be pointed out is preparing for life after football, has been a guest analyst this week on both ESPN and NFL Network and has always quotable. And as he has always done, he gave his opinion straight up with little sugar-coating.
“I think what’s really underestimated is Wes Welker’s importance to not only the New England Patriots, but Tom Brady,” Clark said. A lot of what they do is timing. A lot of what they do is option reads, when you’re working inside against that nickelback or against those linebackers. Losing him is huge,” Clark added. “I know they think Danny Amendola can come in and have the same type of numbers he had with the Rams, but we also have to remember, he’s fragile. He’s not a guy who has completed a whole season, especially playing inside in what can be a physical AFC East.”
Those comments themselves aren’t anything we haven’t heard from numerous analysts since the Amendola signing was announced, but Clark added more comments about Brady and how he gets flustered in the pocket sometimes even when no is around him.
”In 2010, we saw it start with the Jets in the playoffs. When Tom Brady gets pressure and when you’re man-to-man and bumping those guys and making it hard for him to throw, he sees ghosts,” Clark said. ”Even when guys aren’t around him, even when he’s not about to be sacked, when his clock goes off in his head that the ball should be out, we’ll see him duck, we’ll see him flinch. When you get Tom Brady doing that, the whole New England Patriots mystique goes away.”
Brady himself has admitted as such, stating that he doesn’t know why that happens but it may be that clock Clark mentions may have some validity.Clark also mentioned that the Patriots are going to potentially miss both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez who may start the season on the PUP list while recovering from injuries and how the Steelers finally adapted to the Patriots offense.
“I’ll be honest, the years we tried to go in there and fire-zone Brady and play him in that way he picked us apart,” Clark admitted. “Because in that, you’re not overloading the offense, you’re getting one-on-one rushes, only rushing five so he had places to go.”Clark added,
“Two years ago we played them and dominated them because we went man-to-man and had a big corner Cortez Allen who was on Gronkowski and made it hard for Tom to get the ball off in timing. We made him have to make plays and it was hard for him.”
Nothing that Clark was stating was particularly inflammatory or of the cheap trash talk variety. In fact, Clark was telling it like he always does and if nothing else, cemented a place for himself as an analyst that won’t mince words once his playing career is over.But in sound-byte starved New England, his comments haven’t been well received by the fans….no big surprise there.
In fact, although his comments weren’t really that bad, I’m sure Steelers coach Mike Tomlin would probably rather he never said them.And we all know that Bill Belichick loves to play up a slight, sometimes even when there isn’t one. So you can be sure that the Patriots bulletin board, will have these quotes tacked up there in November.
The Steelers will visit Foxboro on November 3 for the 9th game of the season.To watch the entire segment from ESPN click here:
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