The Patriots and Steelers have always had a pretty heated and at times vocal rivalry.
On Monday, current Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark stirred the pot up a bit with some honest, pointed offseason analysis of the Patriots, a team he will face this coming Nov. 3 in Foxborough.
In an appearance on ESPN alongside former NFL safety Darren Woodson on "NFL Live" Clark took part in a segment analyzing the Patriots.
Clark was questioned as to how vulnerable New England might be at this point on offense given the offseason departure of Wes Welker. The safety, who has had his run-ins with Welker on the field in the past, answered with surprising honesty and depth that was filled with some criticism of Tom Brady, Danny Amendola and Co. (And thankfully, ESPNBoston.com had the transcript.)
"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 nickel back or against those linebackers. Losing him is huge.
"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. Also Aaron Hernandez …
"In 2010, we saw it start with the Jets in the playoffs. 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."
Clark was asked a follow-up about Pittsburgh's game plans when facing Brady.
"I'll be honest, the years we tried to go in there and fire zone and play Tom Brady in that way, he was able to pick us apart. In that, you're not overloading the offense -- one-on-one rushes, only rushing five, so he's able to find places to go," Clark answered. "Two years ago we played them and dominated them because we went man-to-man and had a big corner in Cortez Allen on Gronkowski, and made it hard for Tom Brady to get the ball off, in timing, and made him to have to make plays. It was hard for him."
Joey Porter is no longer in Pittsburgh. But rhetoric coming out of the Steelers locker room still spews. This should make for an interesting week leading up the game between these two storied rivals come November. Will Brady be seeing ghosts or could Clark and Co. be seeing stars?
What do you think of Clark's comments? Harsh as they are, is there some truth to what he says? Will it serve to motivate Brady and the Patriots this fall? Let us know with a comment below!