Steelers safety Ryan Clark is spending part of his offseason as an NFL analyst for ESPN. So far, he's called Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola "fragile," and pointed out that quarterback Tom Brady "sees ghosts" when he's pressured. Neither observation is particularly inflammatory except for the fact that the Patriots face the Steelers on Nov. 3 and you can expect to hear about Clark's comments several times a week between then and now.
On Thursday, Clark offered his opinions on how to slow down Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Like Brady, whom the Steelers held in check during a 2011 regular-season win, RG3 struggled last season against a tenacious Pittsburgh defense. And Clark was kind enough to provide the blueprint.
“Our goal was to be physical with him at any opportunity we had, and I think it affected his play,” Clark said via PFT.
By the time it was over, Griffin had just 177 passing yards, eight rushing yards, and absorbed one huge hit -- courtesy of Clark -- on an ill-conceived play in which the quarterback was running a pass pattern.
“We were focused on being physical with him,” Clark continued. “When they ran the read-option, he was the guy we were focused on. [We] had James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley on him at every chance and every opportunity that we got, just so he knew every play, he was gonna be hit.”
After the game, Griffin admitted that running the ball made for tough sledding.
"I just think we called fewer runs for me to get outside the pocket and have designed quarterback runs," he said back in October. "They did a good job. You don't take anything away from that Steelers' offense or defense. They played well today and we didn't. I don't think my rushing attempts had anything to do with that."
It's reasonable to expect the teams that face the Redskins in 2013 to take this approach with Griffin, who's recovering from a January ACL injury. It's something that has to concern coach Mike Shanahan, even if he's of the opinion that the read-option offense, which often leaves his quarterback exposed to big hits, also offers the best protection.
“When most people take a look and they take a look at Robert, they're thinking, ‘Oh, you can't run the option,'” Shanahan said earlier this offseason. “People don't realize that the option protects the quarterback. The thing I have to get with Robert is when to slide, when not to take a hit. These quarterbacks are so competitive but they don't realize sometimes how valuable they are to your franchise.”