Colts Key Matchup: Clark vs. Greisen

Colts tight end Dallas Clark could have a big day against the Jaguars when paired up against Jacksonville's strongside linebacker, Nick Greisen. Greg Talmage explains why in this Colts key matchup analysis...

What do you do with Colts tight end Dallas Clark? Let a safety handle him and risk repeatedly leaving a Colts receiver in single coverage? Or can you trust a linebacker to handle the talented tight end? In the past, Jacksonville has shown a tendency to roll each safety over to help with receivers on the outside. This in turn has left the middle of the field open for either a slot receiver or tight-end to find an opening. If Jacksonville opts to do that again, the assignment of covering Dallas Clark will fall mainly on strong-side linebacker Nick Greisen

Colts tight end Dallas Clark possesses an excellent combination of size and speed. That, combined with his solid route running, will allow him to gain separation in most man-to-man coverages against linebackers and/or safeties.

His great hands and ability to adjust to the ball while in the air makes him a dangerous target if able to get that separation. Clark also turns upfield well after the catch and because of that will earn some solid yards after the catch. His blocking is still somewhat a work-in-progress at the line, but much better on the move.

In order to cover Dallas Clark successfully as a linebacker, the defender must have the speed to keep up and stay close. Given Clark's ability to get some extra yards after the catch, excellent tackling technique is also essential.

Jaguars strong-side linebacker Nick Greisen is a smart, hard working, physically tough player, who uses his brains and work ethic to counter whatever he lacks in athleticism. His approach to the game reminds some observers of his coach, and former NFL linebacker, Jack Del Rio. So the fact that Jacksonville was chomping at the bit to sign him this offseason wasn't a surprise. But does Greisen have the coverage skills to cover Dallas Clark?

Greisen has solid foot quickness and adequate running ability but lacks elite speed. He is more than adequate from sideline-to-sideline and drops back in a zone well. He reads his keys, positions himself well and he finds ways to get to the ball.

The key for Greisen will be to keep Clark in front of him. He doesn't want to get caught streaking downfield next to Clark, especially if the safeties are committed elsewhere. Clark could have a big day if Greisen lets him slip by, or if he gives him too much of a cushion in an effort to keep him in front of him.

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