Disappointing Chiefs Veteran Is Set To Dominate In 2022

August 3, 2022

We’ve seen a lot of storylines in training camp so far for the Chiefs, most of which have surrounded the rookies. However, a Chiefs veteran (that many wanted released) seems to be set for a dominant 2022 season.

The Kansas City Chiefs are ready to show the NFL why they’re still a dominant force in this league. In training camp so far, the rookie class is showing out. Skyy Moore, George Karlaftis, Joshua Williams, and Leo Chenal have made their own fair share of headlines.

Much of the headlines surrounding the Chiefs’ offseason involved reshaping the defense. The pass rush in particular has had a spotlight on it for the entire offseason. Chris Jones, despite being one of the league’s premier interior defensive linemen, hasn’t been able to hold down the fort all on his own. Jones had nine sacks last season and now has 49.5 in his NFL career.

Frank Clark, on the other hand, has seen his sack totals decline in each consecutive season with the Chiefs. After a standout 2018 season with Seattle that saw him tally 13 sacks, he’s yet to reach double digits with Kansas City. Last year, in 14 starts, Clark had just 4.5 sacks on a defense that ranked near the very bottom of the league.

As a result of his struggles, many fans started to call for Clark to be released. His contract — which was set to count $26.3 million against the cap for the Chiefs in 2022 — didn’t help matters either when discussing the defensive end’s future with the team. Kansas City changed that this offseason when they restructured Clark’s contract. Clark is now set to count $13 million against the team’s cap this season. With those changes, it made sense for Clark to stick around in Kansas City, but will he be any better?

Offseason Changes Point To A Better Season From Chiefs DE

Frank Clark looks to be the healthiest we’ve seen since his arrival in Kansas City. You don’t need to take that from an outsider’s perspective either. In a recent media session during Training Camp, Clark discussed his offseason and the failures that he felt last season. When discussing coming into camp last season, Clark states he was far too heavy. “That was the heaviest I had been since, really, like my third year in the league with Seattle,” Clark says. This season, Clark says he wants to get back to “feeling his feet.”

In discussing his failures last season, Clark touches on that piece in depth. “I feel I wasn’t feeling my feet as much last year, I wasn’t as quick off the ball, I wasn’t as explosive.” He continues on saying it was obvious. Clark points to the film from last year to explain why he wanted to trim down ahead of camp this season.

It’s not easy to hear about the struggles Clark has gone through with his health. Clark has struggled with stomach issues during his tenure in Kansas City and also credits giving up alcohol as a primary driver in his weight loss this offseason. In a piece from Eric Edholm of NFL.com, Clark is quoted on some of his lifestyle changes this offseason.

“I stopped drinking liquor. Alcohol is a big factor in a lot of things as far as weight, that cut, it all is sugar. So at the end of the day, I stopped drinking liquor right after the season, honestly.”

Frank Clark

Clark’s struggles with stomach issues and gastrointestinal issues have been no secret and have plagued him during his entire Chiefs tenure. He struggled with some of those issues even earlier in his career when still with Seattle as well. In the Edholm piece, Clark told NFL.com that he hasn’t had any of those stomach issues since he stopped drinking.

The Chiefs are getting a much healthier version of Frank Clark this season, one that they likely haven’t seen on the field since they traded for the edge rusher. The team hopes that this will pay dividends this offseason with Clark’s long-term future with the team very much still in question.

With Health, Chiefs’ Edge Rusher Looks Rejuvenated For 2022

Frank Clark doesn’t just look healthier in this year’s Training Camp. He looks different on the field as well. We’ve seen Clark batting down passes in reps on the field. There have been tweets mentioning that Clark looks faster in his edge rushes as well. There’s no question, of course, that we’re just talking about practice. Until we see Clark on the football field in Week One, it’s tough to put a ton of stock in what we’re seeing in camp thus far.

However, the positivity surrounding Clark extends beyond his improved health, size, and speed. The veteran pass rusher is also making camp headlines as he works with the young pass rushers after practice most days. Nearly every day we’ve seen news of Clark working with George Karlaftis on his technique after practice.

In the above clip, Clark is working with Karlaftis (#56), Kehinde Oginni Hassan (#72), and Austin Edwards (#97). Clark — whose 73 career starts trail only the newly acquired Carlos Dunlap along the defensive line — has become a leader in the locker room for the Chiefs’ defense.

An article from Fox 4 Kansas City this week touched on the end-of-season conversation that Head Coach Andy Reid held with Clark at the end of 2021. In a quote, Clark discusses what Reid told him at the end of last year, “It was flat out, ‘I know what type of player you are, you know what type player of you are. You didn’t show that this season.”

It seems clear that the team’s leadership felt that their defensive end failed to meet expectations last season but is comfortable giving him one more chance to turn things around in 2022. A separate quote from the Fox article touches on a much more important development this offseason for Clark.

““At some point, you’ve gotta grow up, I got three kids. I got kids looking at me every day. I got a six-year-old daughter, you know, who’s looking at daddy, looking at me to make the right decisions,”

Frank Clark

This seems to be where the new leadership is stemming from with Frank Clark early on in Training Camp. Now entering his age-29 season, Clark has matured. The Chiefs are getting a healthier, more mature version of Clark as they try to re-make their defensive pass rush.

Help Has Arrived For Clark In The Form Of Chiefs’ Latest Signing

Mandatory Credit: Norm Hall, Getty Images

The Chiefs acquired Frank Clark in the 2019 offseason. In the season prior, he had 13 sacks for the Seattle Seahawks and looked to be one of the league’s premier young pass rushers. However, if we rewind and put the Seattle-era of Clark’s career into context, it becomes more clear why the Chiefs haven’t gotten the same out of their pass rusher so far.

In 2016, Clark was a second-year pass rusher in the league and completed the season with ten sacks. It was a “coming out party” of sorts for the young edge rusher. However, that 2016 Seahawks team didn’t rely just on Clark to pressure the quarterback. Cliff Avril led the team with 16 starts and 11.5 sacks. Michael Bennett made 11 starts for the team and finished with five sacks of his own. Seattle got the best out of Clark because he was playing alongside two former-Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl Champions.

The very next season in 2017, Bennett was still with Seattle, but Avril made just four starts. However, the team added Dion Jordan and Dwight Freeney to bolster their pass rush. In 2018, Clark’s last (and best season) with Seattle, he had 13.5 sacks. Defensive Tackle Jarran Reed had ten sacks of his own and the pass rush was anchored by Clark, Reed, Quinton Jefferson, Mychal Kendricks, and Dion Jordan.

The Seahawks maintained a deep group of pass rushers in Clark’s tenure with the team. The experience opposite Clark was key and allowed him to rush the quarterback with fewer double teams because opposing offensive lines had to focus on Avril, Bennett, Jordan, or whoever else was opposite of Clark. In his best season with the Chiefs, Clark was playing opposite Emmanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor. Both edge rushers finished with more than five sacks in fewer than ten starts.

The lack of an experienced edge rusher on the other side seemed to hurt Clark in his first season with the Chiefs but he still finished with a strong eight sacks that season. The Chiefs, of course, also won the Super Bowl that season. The next season, in 2020, Clark finished with just six sacks as the team relied on Taco Charlton and rookie Michael Danna to round out the pass rush.

Last year, in Clark’s worst season with the team, he had even less support on the edge. Until the Chiefs traded for Melvin Ingram mid-season, Clark was rushing the passer alongside Chris Jones and Mike Danna. The Jones experiment on the outside didn’t last long and he was moved back inside.

With the addition of Carlos Dunlap and the selection of George Karlaftis in the draft, the Chiefs have paired Clark with the strongest outside pass rush group he’s been a part of since possibly his second season in the league when he was playing alongside Avril and Bennett. Not only is Clark the healthiest we’ve seen in years, but he also has the support around him needed to help him succeed in his role once again. If there’s a resurgence from Clark this year, don’t be surprised. The stars have aligned for him to be back in form this season.


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