Steelers Ryan Clark analyzes Tom Brady on ESPN

Chris McGrath

When the Steelers veteran safety joined ESPN, he had plenty to say when the subject turned to Tom Brady's life since Wes Welker left for Denver; and he thinks Brady sees "ghosts".

Perhaps Ryan Clark, veteran safety of the Pittsburgh Steelers, should learn a lesson from Anthony Smith - don't talk about the New England Patriots before you play them.

Clark joined NFL Live yesterday, and had plenty to say when the topic turned to Tom Brady, Wes Welker and the Patriots.

''I think what's really underestimated is Wes Welker's importance to not only the New England Patriots, but Tom Brady. A lot of what they do is timing. A lot of what they do is option reads, when you're working inside against that nickelback 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 Gronkowski and the injury, that is going to be bigger than anything for the New England Patriots coming in this year.''

While New England fans are already wondering how their offense will do without Welker, Brady has won championships without Welker on the roster and is capable of doing so again.

His feelings on Amendola are also congruent with the Patriots organization's, but probably inappropriate coming from someone who reportedly suffered multiple concussions last season forcing hm to switch to an over-sized helmet, and whose inability to play in Denver forced his team to rely on a reserve replacement during the playoffs.

However, Clark's analysis of the Patriots didn't end with injury concerns. He then focused on Brady and his "ghosts".

''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.''

While the Steelers have found success against the Patriots in recent years using a man approach, Clark was quickly reminded of Brady's success against Pittsburgh's normal zone-blitz philosophy.

"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. 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 have to make plays. It was hard for him."

Unfortunately, Clark fails to point out how the Steelers used the element of surprise against the Patriots in the game he mentioned. Certainly, a New England squad which had prepared all week for a typical Dick LeBeau defensive gameplan, would find themselves flustered by a completely different look. It has been a long time since then, and Pittsburgh has deployed their man-up look against other opponents, leaving film to be studied.

Everyone knows how much the Patriots love analyzing film.

Brady and coach Bill Belichek have won a lot of football games, including Super Bowls, against every type of defense, even when "it was hard for him". When the Steelers play the Patriots during the 2013 regular season, Brady may not look nearly as uncomfortable; and he may now pay a little extra attention to Clark's side of the defense - like he did to Mr. Smith.

Chances are, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin did not approve of Clark's message.

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