It's always nice when one of the bright spots for your team is the play of gentlemen who haven't worn your jersey in half a decade. But trying times these are, so let's salute Dallas Clark, who is putting together a remarkable year over in Indianapolis thus far.
Per game averages, 2003-2006:
Per game averages, 2007:
The gem of last weekend's performance was a 10-yard touchdown reception off a middle screen from Manning, described thusly by the Indianapolis Star's Mike Chappell:
Clark's 10-yard touchdown in the first quarter was his fifth of the season, already tying his career high.
And it was a keeper. Manning called it "as good a run as you'll see all year . . . breaking all those tackles.''
Lined up at tight end on the right side of the line, Clark briefly engaged a defender with a block before releasing. He took a middle screen from Manning, juked to his left past a flailing linebacker, then cut up field where he broke the tackle attempt of safety Jermaine Phillips. Hit by cornerback Ronde Barber around the 3-yard line, Clark dragged Barber, then stretched the football across the goal line.
(Story link here.)
It seems strange to think that Dallas, now into his fifth season with the Colts, has yet to log over 500 yards or five touchdowns on a whole year. While nobody would call the man a bust, he's always been on the fringe of statistical success--small potatoes next to a Super Bowl ring, of course.
This season looks to be different for Clark and the Colts, though. Marvin Harrison is still Marvin Harrison, but the future Hall of Famer is 35, and considering his trick knee, nobody would blame Harrison if he retired at the end of the season. Anthony Gonzalez is still young, and Reggie Wayne is at his best doing an uncanny Alvin Harper impression as the best #2 receiver in the game.
Being that Peyton Manning will continue to do his thing, then, it seems only logical that Dallas Clark will continue to put up bigger numbers. While we can have fun with extrapolation (960 yards and 16 TD's for the year? Excelsior!), it's wildly unreasonable to base actual expectations off them. 800 yards and 10 TD's is fair, especially as defenses begin to key on Clark, realizing he's no longer just a 3rd or 4th option for Manning anymore.
And then there's the Madden issue. Last year, some of the promotional spots for Madden NFL 2007 featured Video Game Dallas Clark getting destroyed by Video Game Eagles Defender Guy. Clark, naturally, took a bit of offense, saying "I haven't seen the commercial, but I'm upset about it. It makes me look like a punk."
Keeping in the good humor, the same company created a "director's cut" video for Dallas, shown below.
Keep up the good work, Super Ninja Matrix Dallas Clark.