Packers: Despite down numbers, Kenny Clark still Playing at a High Level

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images /

Although his numbers are down this season for the Green Bay Packers, defensive tackle Kenny Clark is still playing at a high level.

The Green Bay Packers have really struggled this season to stop the run – particularly between the tackles – as they’ve allowed nearly 128 rushing yards per game in 2019. And their pass-rush that was constantly in the backfield early on, has only totaled four sacks in the last three games.

It’s easy to point the finger at Kenny Clark whose job it is to clog the middle and get after the quarterback as being a major contributor to these issues. However, despite his lack of production, that isn’t necessarily the case.

This season Clark has 30 total tackles which puts him on pace to match his production from the previous two years but where we haven’t seen him making as many plays is in the backfield. Clark has just 1.5 sacks, zero tackles for loss, and only three quarterback hits, all of which will be below – and in some cases well below – the marks that he’s hit in 2017 and 2018 if he maintains his current pace.

With that said, even though his numbers are down this season, Clark is still playing at a high level for the Green Bay Packers.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), they ranked Clark as the 24th best pass-rusher this season despite him not necessarily having the numbers to back it up. And this was their reasoning:

"“Clark hasn’t quite been able to replicate the dominance we saw from him as a pass-rusher last season when he earned an 88.8 pass-rushing grade, but we’re not going to argue over top-25 play. He’s done it all with an absurd workload, too. Clark has played the most snaps of any defensive tackle in the NFL, as he’s on pace for 871 this season.”"

For one, Clark’s workload as PFF pointed out has been incredible. He’s on pace for 871 snaps this season while also battling a number of injuries. Also, he is the focal point of every offense and that coupled with Mike Pettine consistently only rushing four players means Clark is oftentimes double-teamed. If the Packers are going to slow the run and get after the quarterback, then the others around Clark – Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams, and Blake Martinez – will have to take advantage of their matchups when he is being doubled.

Earlier this week when Pettine was asked about Clark’s performance this season, he had this to say about it:

"“Kenny has been solid as a rock for us, just from a standpoint of successfully doing his job each play.”"

Pettine would also add:

"“It’s only natural that his numbers have gone down. Teams have realized, hey, we don’t want this guy to wreck the game for us,” Pettine said. “I know it can get frustrating for him, he’s had a certain style of play where he’s made plays and he doesn’t have the ability to do that as much anymore, but it’s something we’re aware of.”"

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Obviously moving forward we hope that Kenny Clark starts tallying more sacks and tackles in the backfield but we can’t mistake his down numbers for poor play. There are a number of factors involved and Clark is one of the more consistent players on this Green Bay Packers team. However, if opposing offenses can double-team Clark without having to pay a price, they’ll continue doing it. Clark needs some help from those around him.