Offensive tackle Chris Clark should be the go-to-guy from here on out
The Panthers may have found a diamond in the rough.
There is no doubt that he has been one of the more underrated acquisitions for the Carolina Panthers so far this season. Offensive tackle Chris Clark has done a nice job filling in holes on the line, especially with the injury to left tackle Matt Kalil
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Consider the data from Sunday’s win against the Baltimore Ravens. Clark played 100% of the snaps during the game. Although since he was the starter that does not seem like an impressive number, it really is when you consider he was a late addition to the team. He was signed by the Panthers on September 12, the same day that right tackle Daryl Williams was placed on injured reserve. Since then, he has proven to be a stabilizing addition to the line.
In Friday’s mailbag, the Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue was asked how soon we should expect Matt Kalil to return. Let’s just say that her answer did not work in Kalil’s favor.
"I think the question then isn’t whether we’ll see Kalil back on the field this year (which I doubt, aside from an emergency), but whether he will be a part of the Panthers’ big picture plans after the season. Remember, if the Panthers want to trade him they’d have to convince another team to absorb that big contract. And if they cut him this year (also unlikely), they’re on the hook for $20.8 million."
I agree with her overall assessment here. From a personnel standpoint, it doesn’t take much to realize that Clark has been playing well. That works in the Carolina Panthers favor. As she notes, what does not work in their favor is Kalil’s big contract. It is going to be very difficult to find a team that is willing to take on a $20.8 million contract. It would be one thing if he had been playing at a high level. The fact of the matter is, Kalil’s play to this point has left a lot to be desired.
Per statistics from Pro Football Focus, Clark is most effective in passing situations. He has a 65.8 pass block rating which is his highest in comparison to his overall offensive rating and his run block rating. Although his pass block rating may seem a bit low, if that’s the thing that he excels at, that is not a bad thing. Coming into the season, many were worried about the Carolina Panthers protecting Cam Newton. If Clark is putting together his best performances doing exactly that, then I don’t see the need to take him out of his role. As Rodrigue noted, we may not even have to worry about that as Kalil may not see the field again this year.
In any event, Clark is the guy the Panthers should stick with from here on out. He has proven himself to be a valuable component to the line and with the goal being to protect the quarterback as effectively as possible, it would not make sense to change things up. If it is not broken, do not try to fix it. At the moment, Chris Clark is the man.
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