Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo made his message very clear at the (Zoom) podium on Thursday, explaining that he cares little about the team’s 2020 sack numbers. He just wants to see them impacting the quarterback.
In a sense, defensive end Frank Clark echoed his coach’s words when it was his turn at the podium on Friday.
“I care more about winning, you know what I’m saying?” said Clark. “A player like myself, other players, a few other players in the room, when you’re used to success, it’s not nothing new to you. I’m used to success, I’m used to winning, I’m used to achieving all the numbers, the sacks and all that stuff. Getting another sack, getting another five, 10 sacks isn’t nothing new to me. I’ve been there, I’ve done that.”
Coming into the season, Clark had 43 sacks in his career, including 8.0 in his first year as a Chief in 2019. Clark also had 5.0 sacks during the Chiefs’ three-game Super Bowl run.
Now he says his sole focus is on getting back.
“The only thing I haven’t done is won two Super Bowls, the only thing I haven’t done is complete a season and go 15-1 or finish as strong as we can,” he explained. “Of course as a competitor, you always want your individual things to be better, you always want to play games better, you want to do things like that better. The only thing I can really appreciate just being a part of this team is our willingness to win, willingness to not be selfish. We’re real selfless. You don’t really find a lot of guys into the whole stat thing. We’re the Kansas City Chiefs, we’re the champs and we’re winning so at the end of the day, I feel like that’s more important than anything.”
In 2020, Clark has registered 4.0 sacks — but has only one over the past seven games. Digging into the advanced statistics, Clark has 19 quarterback pressures through 11 games, only three shy of his total through 11 games in 2019 (22).
Though he’s not that far off that pace, he still hopes to see improvement on the season.
“I feel like it’s going all right, I feel like it can always be better, but I got more years in this game,” he said. “I take everything – I’m very competitive so of course I want to be at the top. I know how hard I work and what I do to put into this game, but I know that will come. My coaches, they understand me, they know how I am — especially when it comes to my competitive nature. I want to be the best, that’s all I care about. I don’t care about anything else. I don’t care about second place; I don’t care about the middle or in between. I want to be the best, that’s all I care about.”
Asked for ways in which he sees he could improve, Clark said he’d like to use his hands more and be a bit more aggressive — with the idea being this would help him win more snaps against opposing offensive linemen.
Clark’s best effort in 2019 came when it mattered the most — in the final stretch of regular-season games and in the playoffs, having recovered from injury and illness.
Clark said the key then was simply “blocking out the noise.”
“I feel like that’s important usually at the end of the season because that change where stuff starts happening. You got teams that are declining, you got play that is declining — or you got teams that are rising to the occasion of the season, you got players are rising to the occasion of the season, so I feel like that was one of those things.”
In the Chiefs’ Week 7 43-16 win over the Broncos, Clark played 51 snaps, and he was held without a pressure on the night. He will have an opportunity to avenge that quiet outing when Denver visits Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night.