The Steelers don't play the Patriots until November, but that hasn't stopped Pittsburgh's Ryan Clark from sharing some criticism of the Pats and Tom Brady.
Clark was on NFL Live yesterday and unleashed this quote that sent the New England media into a frenzy.
“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."
“In 2010, we saw it start with the Jets in the playoffs," Clark said. "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. 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.”
While most Patriots fans will read the above and automatically enter a Hulk-like "He say bad thing about Brady, me get mad" mode, Clark actually makes a ton of sense.
There is no denying that what Clark says it's true. It's been noted by Patriots fans over and over again. It seems to have started ever since Brady came back from knee surgery. It's even been acknowledged by Mr. Brady himself.
MassLive.com's Nick Underhill points to Brady discussing this with the press in the middle of last season.
Brady admitted to ducking phantom pass rushers last year and said he was not sure why it happens.
“It’s not something you think about, it’s just instinctive,” he said.
So, yes it happens. When you get pressure on Tom Brady, you can rattle him and maybe beat him. However, that's much easier said than done and the Patriots' winning percentage speaks to that. We have seen time and time again that elite defenses can accomplish this though and that has been the thorn in the Pariots' playoff side since 2007.
To add insult to injury, Clark also points out another obvious flaw with the Patriots plan on offense this year, Amendola is fragile.
''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. You also think about (Rob) Gronkowski and the injury, that is going to be bigger than anything for the New England Patriots coming in this year.''
Again, valid points and some solid analysis by Clark here. Still, it's nothing new. Everyone knows how you can beat the Patriots, there's just very few teams that can actually do it. Of course, this is a new year with some drastically different personnel on offense.
We write the Patriots in as Superbowl contenders every year, but there's no denying there are some serious question marks.