Clark: Big Ben should tone things down

October 10, 2013
By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Veteran safety Ryan Clark did not back down from comments he made on ESPN on the Steelers' bye week that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has to "tone down" his game if the Steelers are going to be successful.

Clark said Roethlisberger has a tendency to improvise too much at times and that style might have something to do with the team's first 0-4 start since 1968.

"We have to tone Ben down in a sense and say, 'Hey, right now, we're not a good enough football team for you to try to extend plays, for us to take sacks, for us to have turnovers,' " Clark said on ESPN.

Clark was asked Wednesday to clarify his remarks.

"When asked a question about Ben, I said, we need to protect Ben," Clark said. "And, when I say that, [I mean] defense, we need to make plays so he doesn't feel like he has to do everything. Offensively, we need to protect him so he can get the ball out on his fifth step; receivers need to get open, running backs need to run the ball.

"But, in that as well, I feel like he needs to understand that, as constructed right now, we aren't playing well enough right now as a team to where we can take sacks and have turnovers. So, as a team, that's a team solution.

"But the quarterback has to spearhead it. He's our guy, he's our leader, he makes the plays, he's the reason we have two Super Bowl wins and been to three. We have to find ways to help him not feel like he has to do that."

When told of Clark's comments, Roethlisberger said he is not going to change his style.

"I didn't hear about [that]," Roethlisberger said. "It is what it is. I'm just going to play the game the way that I play it and try not to turn it over."

When asked if he appreciated a teammate commenting on his play, Roethlisberger responded: "That's the great thing about this country we live in. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and allowed to say what they want. If Ryan feels that way, then that's fine."

It was the second consecutive week that there has been some back and forth between two of the team's captains. After the Steelers lost to the Minnesota Vikings to fall to 0-4, Roethlisberger said the Steelers might be the worst team in the league. Clark said Roethlisberger was being "dramatic" when he said that. Roethlisberger later clarified his comments and said he was viewing it strictly from a win-loss perspective.