Full disclosure, I was harder than most local pundits on Frank Clark for most of last season. While Clark was a great anchor against the run, it’s uncommon for teams to pay run-stoppers $100 million dollar long-term deals. The players who receive that kind of compensation do so based off their affinity to rush the passer.
Through 16 games of the regular season in 2019, Clark only had 8 sacks. That’s not exactly what the Chiefs front office was hoping for when they traded their 2019 first rounder to the Seattle Seahawks and signed him to a blockbuster deal.
Fortunately, Clark rebounded in the playoffs. After dealing with and seemingly resolving a stomach issue that had plagued him, causing him to lose a surprising amount of weight, Clark exploded in the playoffs for five sacks.
Most of the pressure he enforced came at critical junctures, including one of the last drives for the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. On a pivotal fourth down, Clark broke through the 49ers line to sack Jimmy Garoppolo for a nine-yard loss and force a turnover on downs.
With his performance in the playoffs came renewed confidence from Chiefs Kingdom in his long-term deal and expectations for a big year in 2020. Unfortunately, Clark’s season hasn’t exactly played out that way. In 15 games Clark has only generated six sacks, 15 quarterback hits, and eight tackles for loss. His sacks and tackles for loss are his lowest since his rookie season, and lower than his average output per season.
The Chiefs as a whole have struggled to rush the passer this season, so Clark isn’t the only player to critique. Even so, he’s one of the emotional leaders on the defense and his sacks usually do more than simply fill a stat sheet. A big sack from Frank Clark can ignite the Chiefs defense, and they’re going to need him to deliver as they move deeper into the playoffs.