Sunday, September 25, 2022

Chiefs tries to leave Clark as the Giants visit Arrowhead

Kansas City, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark was refreshingly honest this week when asked how gun-related arrests have weighed on him during the off-season, with the addition of hamstring injuries every few weeks apart. kept. Off the field for a long time.

“At first, things hit me pretty fast,” Clarke said, “but at the end of the day, I have to work with the Chiefs here.

Monday night would be an opportune time to start doing it.

The two-time defending AFC champs are walled at 3-4 and are already facing a climb to reach the playoffs as the New York Giants visit Arrowhead Stadium. And a big reason for his losing record has been a disappointing defense that has been particularly poor when it comes to putting pressure on the quarterback – the job Clarke was brought in to do.

The Chiefs have just eight sacks this season, tied with Jacksonville, the lowest in the NFL.

No wonder every question asked by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo this week had to do with putting pressure on the quarterback. The generally friendly assistant coach was patient enough to point out a litany of injuries that left him short-handed – defensive tackle Chris Jones and linebacker Anthony Hitchens joined Clarke on the long bench – but it was also clear. That Spagnuolo was starting to feel the pressure.

“Some of the teams we’ve played with have been very good,” Spagnuolo said. “We have had pass-run issues[where]we didn’t put them in quote-unquote ‘passing situations,’ I guess you can do as much as you want. I mean, back to the Cleveland game when we Eventually moved on, it was different, and we could have played a little differently.

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“We just have to get into situations where we know it’s near so that we can pin our ears back and go.”

The problem with the Giants (2-5) is that while they don’t do anything particularly well, the one thing they do well enough is to protect the quarterback. Putting him in the top half of the league, he has been allowed only 14 sacks.

Part of that success is thanks to the growth of Daniel Jones as one of the sport’s promising young quarterbacks.

Jones is coming off a 23-in-33 passing performance against Carolina in which he threw for a touchdown, wreaked havoc with his legs and even took a nifty one-handed catch on a trick play. The result was a 25-3 defeat for the Panthers.

Even better for Jones? It appears Sterling Shepard will recover from a hamstring injury and fellow wide receiver Kadarius Toney from an ankle injury, although stars Saxon Barkley and Kenny Golladay have been ruled out once again.

“They’re a good defense,” Jones said of the Chiefs. “They’ve been a good defense for the past several years. The Chiefs have been a top team in the league. They have really good players on defense, who can disrupt the game and who can play big time. Not me. Looks like there’s someone on our team or in this building who will ignore them.”

Nor are the major giants to be overlooked. They have already exhausted their chances of ignoring someone.

“You have to come in every day with that desire to be better, a desire to compete, and with that Super Bowl mentality — that championship mentality,” Clark said. “I think sometimes we get ahead of ourselves like we’ve been successful. You start thinking about the playoffs, the Super Bowl, those games instead of thinking, ‘We’ve got the Giants this week.’ So, I think that has been kind of a problem.”

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Injuries and off-field problems have been an even bigger problem, at least for Clarke.

The Chiefs traded the 28-year-old pass rusher in 2019, then immediately signed him to a $105 million, five-year contract that makes him one of the biggest salary cap hits in the entire NFL this season. He hurt his hamstring at two-week training camp, missed all preseasons and openers, then hurt his other hamstring in practice. And also, he pleaded not guilty to gun-related charges by March’s arrest, and was recently indicted for the second of two gun-related incidents during the off-season.

The result of all those injuries and distractions? Clarke has five tackles, 11 pressures and three hits without a sack to his name in the last three games, the number of replacement-player-level numbers on the pay of an All-Pro pass rusher.

However, he still has time to turn things around. Same goes for the chiefs.

“When you sit down and start reevaluating things and you just start looking at the big picture, it’s really just taking a day at a time,” Clark said. “Since yesterday, it’s, ‘Today, we’ve got this exercise, then we’ve got this exercise today, and the next day,’ and you keep going like that, and then it’s going to enable you to put your all in one. Instead of thinking too much ahead of the box and thinking too much outside the box. I think it’s important.”

___ More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Nation World News Desk
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