Before the 2015 season got underway, former Pittsburgh Steelers safety and current ESPN analyst Ryan Clark predicted the team he once played for wouldn’t make the playoffs because of all of the leadership lost on defense in addition to the organization parting ways with longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
Now that the Steelers have proved Clark’s prediction wrong, the former Steeler now has a change of tune as it relates to them possibly making a run at a seventh Lombardi Trophy.
“When you watch this offense and the things they were able to do this year, even with Ben [Roethlisberger] not playing very well against the Ravens and having some interceptions against the Cleveland Browns, they just score at such a high clip,” started Clark on the Tuesday edition of First Take on ESPN. “This is going to be a tough out for other teams in the AFC.”
Clark also further clarified why he predicted the Steelers would miss the playoffs this season.
“When I looked at the Pittsburgh Steelers, and me being new to this, I’m hard on them because I know that I look at them through rose-colored glasses sometimes,” explained Clark. “Mike T. [Tomlin] can do no wrong to me. When he’s out of Pittsburgh, I’m going to be a person with one of those long Instragam messages for him and I can be honest about that. He’s touched my life in that way.
“So when I was looking at this team, it was also my heart playing Troy Polamalu’s not there. That Brett Keisel’s not there on defense anymore – Ike Taylor. And I did not think that this team, defensively, had what it took to be a playoff team, and they almost didn’t. I also knew that this offense would be good, I didn’t know that it would be like this.”
Clark really hits on two key points as the Steelers begin their playoff journey. First, the offense has to play like they have at times during the second half of the season and second, their defense needs to start playing like a playoff defense. If both of those things happen, the Steelers will certainly be a tough out in the playoffs.