NY Jets safety Chuck Clark felt 'embarrassed' after tearing ACL

Chuck Clark is back after 'embarrassing' injury last year
Chuck Clark
Chuck Clark / Jonathan Jones-USA TODAY Sports

One of the savviest acquisitions the NY Jets made in the 2023 offseason never even had the opportunity to appear in a game for the team. One year later, Chuck Clark is ready to return to the field after an injury he has since described as "embarrassing."

Clark spoke to Ethan Greenberg of newyorkjets.com this week following his return to the practice field during Jets OTAs, and the veteran safety revealed that he felt "embarrassed" after suffering a torn ACL last spring.

Clark, who hadn't missed a game due to injury in his six-year NFL career prior to the 2023 season, was acquired by the Jets in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens that March and was expected to serve as one of the team's starting safeties alongside Jordan Whitehead.

Unfortunately, Clark would suffer a season-ending knee injury in May, prematurely ending his Jets tenure before it ever really got started. The Philadelphia native re-signed with the Jets this offseason and once again returns to compete for a starting job.

Clark admitted to Greenberg that he felt "embarrassed" but also "embraced" by his Jets teammates and coaching staff following the injury.

"For me, I knew that I was in a new environment and then to come somewhere new and get hurt, and that was first time ever being hurt and just the embrace that I got from everybody around the building. I felt embarrassed getting hurt. It was just a weird feeling in a new place. I get hurt and I'm embarrassed. But the vibe that I got from everybody else who's just like, welcome this is OK, you're gonna be alright, we know the type of player you are."

Chuck Clark

Chuck Clark could be a difference-maker for the NY Jets in 2024

The Clark trade was arguably the best value move the Jets made throughout the entire 2023 offseason. The Jets acquired a rock-solid starting safety for the measly cost of a future seventh-round pick simply because his old team had a logjam at the position.

Clark significantly raises the floor of the Jets' safety room and should excel in areas that the now-departed Jordan Whitehead struggled in. More specifically, Clark immediately becomes the Jets' best tackling safety.

The 29-year-old finished with an excellent missed-tackle rate of just 6.6 percent in 2022, ranking sixth among all safeties to play at least 1,000 defensive snaps. That tackling proficiency has been a strength throughout his career.

Clark holds a career missed-tackle rate of just 8.3 percent, nearly half Whitehead's career rate of 15.7 percent. Whitehead led all NFL safeties with 20 missed tackles on an abysmal 18.0 percent missed-tackle rate in 2023.

For context, Clark has missed just 23 combined tackles over his last 3,341 snaps (49 games). Whitehead missed 20 tackles in just 1,076 snaps (17 games) last season. Only Kevin Byard had a higher Pro Football Focus tackling grade among safeties between 2020 and 2022.

Clark is expected to compete with the likes of Tony Adams and Ashtyn Davis for playing time in the Jets' secondary this season, but if he's healthy and still playing at his pre-injury level, there's no reason why he shouldn't be an every-down player for the Jets in 2024.

That embarrassment should soon transform into a sense of vengeance and satisfaction.