From “Steady” to “Impactful”
For Baltimore Ravens safety Chuck Clark, working hard, being in the correct place and doing the right thing earned him defensive snaps both at Virginia Tech and in the NFL.
It’s a valuable lesson for players at all levels, and, honestly, in any walk of life. Keep your head down, be accountable, study your craft and perform when called upon. Clark has done that, standing out on special teams before earning time in college, and then repeating the same cycle when he was added to one of the most-celebrated defensive franchises in the NFL in the Ravens.
And Clark has taken those opportunities he’s earned and run with them — standing out as one of the top performers on this year’s defense, and seemingly getting better every week.
We had a glimpse into what Clark was becoming when the team signed superstar safety (and later Clark-antagonist) Earl Thomas. After spending time with the team, and defensive backs, Thomas told reporters, “I was like, ‘Bro, why are they bringing me in here when they’ve got this guy?’”
That was before, you know, Thomas went all screwy, punched Clark during a practice and found himself a man without a team. But that’s another story, for another day.
Consider Clark’s ascent. In 2017, per Pro Football reference, Clark played in 15 games, and only got on the field for six percent of the team’s defensive snaps, while taking part in 80 percent of the special teams action. In 2018, his defensive play share jumped to 24 percent, while maintaining his presence on teams at 78 percent. In 2019, the number went to 76 percent on defense, and 53 percent on special teams. In 2020, and thus far in 2021, Clark has been on the field for 100 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
And he has shined.
In the opening loss against the Raiders, Clark had three passes defended, which is a remarkable number. Against Detroit, Clark registered a sack, and had 12 tackles to pace the team. He had another seven tackles against the Broncos, and has registered three tackles for loss this season — as a safety, mind you. He had three all of last season, and, remember, he played every single snap on defense. It’s safe to say Clark has elevated his game to a whole new level this season. Something he seems to do every season.
For a guy who created a career for himself by doing what was asked and not garnering attention because of mistakes, Clark is now a player who commands attention because of his ability to stand out and make plays. He has gone from the fringes of an NFL roster to the possible fringes of a Pro Bowl appearance.
Score one for the guys who do things the right way.