The Pittsburgh Steelers had a bye last week. I’m sure most of them put the time to good use, resting some nagging injuries, catching up with their families… Perhaps a few even indulged in their favorite hobbies. For safety Ryan Clark that means finding the nearest video camera and blabbering away.
Clark appeared on his home away from home, ESPN’s First Take, where he had a chance to catch up with his old buddy Skip Bayliss. Of course the first question they asked was about the Black and Gold’s wretched 0-4 start. Not surprisingly, Clark downplayed the team’s woes, maintaining the team would rebound to make the playoffs. Shockingly, Dallas-based Bayliss agreed with him.
I suppose I shouldn’t be too critical of Clark for keeping the faith. His argument that the AFC North is full of a bunch of mediocre teams really is a valid point. He also rightly points out that with only one division game in the books, the Steelers have their destiny in their own hands so to speak. As I recounted on Monday, despite the North being a three way tie at 3-2, it’s still a woeful division full of flawed teams. Perhaps none moreso than the Cleveland Browns.
The best part of the interview was Clark’s candid assessment of Browns quarterback Brandon Weedon. Again, I made similar comments about Cleveland’s offense suffering from the loss of Brian Hoyer but it’s unusual when an active NFL player offers such a frank viewpoint. Then again, his reasons for doing so made perfect sense. Despite Bayliss’s surprise at offering the Browns “bulletin board material,” Clark is 100% accurate when he says Cleveland is always eager to beat the Steelers regardless. We’ve long known our twice yearly meetings were their Super Bowls so at this point calling their old crappy QB a noodle-armed sissy isn’t going to make them any more motivated.
All this agreeing with Ryan Clark… I need a drink…
Okay, one thing I didn’t like about Clark’s appearance was the dwelling on the offensive woes. Bayliss brought up Clark mentioning Ben Roethlisberger‘s fumble at the end of the Minnesota game and in typical journalistic fashion tried to stir up shit but Clark wasn’t biting. He did seem to have a lot of ideas about how the offense should play – Ben should stop trying to be Sandlot Ben, get the ball out quicker, run the ball more, etc. I’m sure that was music to the “Set Ben Free!” idiots on Twitter.
While there is some merit to what Clark said, I’d be more concerned with the defensive side of the ball. Particularly, oh I don’t know, let’s say the horrendous missed tackles that allowed three huge plays by the Vikings… And who was one of the culprits on two of those big plays? That’s right, Ryan Clark. So instead of worrying about whether Ben runs around like a loon trying to make a big play down field, how about learning how to square your shoulders and make a nice form tackle so running backs stop blowing by you?
As another respected ESPN football analyst, the honorable Ray Lewis might say, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”