Green Bay Packers: Kevin King Finding Success in Last 2 Games

Jan 16, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King (20) against the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC Divisional Round at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 16, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King (20) against the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC Divisional Round at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Ask many Green Bay Packers fans about Kevin King’s tenure with the team, and they’ll be happy to vent their frustrations to you—just pull up a chair because it may take some time.

During his first four seasons, King has battled injuries, appearing in only 41 out of a possible 64 regular-season games. Even in 2021, he’s missed more games than he’s played.

On the field, tackling has been a major issue; quarterbacks have a 62 percent completion rate against him through four seasons, and King is allowing 15 yards per catch as well.

Outside of the five interceptions he posted in 2019 — which was tied for the second-most in football that season — King has just one other interception to his name. And, of course, we all remember the most recent NFC Championship Game.

For those reasons and more, it was assumed by many that King would head elsewhere in free agency this past offseason. However, that wasn’t the case. Not only did the Green Bay Packers re-sign him, but the cap-strapped organization signed him to a one-year deal worth up to $6 million.

With Jaire Alexander being the only reliable boundary cornerback on the roster at that time and the draft not having yet taken place, the Green Bay Packers chose the familiarity and experience that King provides to hopefully help stabilize a key position.

Obviously, the perception of King outside of 1265 Lombardi Ave is a lot different than what it is inside.

"“He’s a guy I have a lot of faith, a lot of confidence in,” LaFleur said via the Wisconsin State Journal. “I think when he’s healthy, he’s really tough to deal with. He was a guy I was super-excited to get back. He’s a resilient guy. He’s a smart guy. I think our value (of him) within our building is much higher maybe than public perception is out there.“"

Unfortunately, the beginning of King’s 2021 season looked quite similar to how 2020 ended.

Week 1 against New Orleans, King would allow two completions for 72 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown. The following game in Detroit, he allowed three receptions for 61 yards, including a 46-yard reception that week. Not to mention that he would continue to struggle against the run and making tackles.

King would miss the next few games and return for the Green Bay Packers Week 5 matchup with Cincinnati—where things would all of a sudden turn around drastically.

This was the Packers’ first full game without Jaire Alexander, and King — along with other members of the secondary — would step up. Although he would allow three receptions on three targets, King gave up just 17 yards while being tasked with covering Tee Higgins and was in on five tackles as well, according to PFF ($$).

"“I thought Kevin played a really good game. (And) he was playing a lot of that game or part of that game with basically one arm,” LaFleur said via the Wisconsin State Journal. “I thought he competed well and was playing really, really well.“I was happy with how he was playing and it’s unfortunate that happened.”"

Due to the shoulder injury that King sustained in the Cincinnati game, he would miss the next few games before returning this past Sunday in Kansas City. Still without Alexander and this time with Eric Stokes also sidelined, King — along with Rasul Douglas and Chandon Sullivan — helped shut down a potent Chiefs’ offense.

Per PFF, King was targeted six times and allowed only three completions for 21 yards and a pass breakups while being matched up on Jerick McKinnon, Tyreek Hill, and Mecole Hardman. King would also record six tackles—with none missed.

Grades are far from the be-all-end-all, but they can help illustrate how well — or poorly — a player is performing and can add some prespective. For King, his overall grades from PFF these past two games have been his highest since Week 16 of the 2019 season.

So what has changed? As is often the case, there are likely a number of factors, some of which we probably don’t have the answers to.

However, a few possible factors could include the play of Green Bay’s defensive front during this span, which has been much better at getting after the quarterback, This, of course, helps the secondary as well.

The Green Bay defense has also been playing with leads and the unit has done a very good job of slowing the opponent’s run game. These two factors can make the opposing offense one-dimensional—which, again, is good for the secondary.

From a defensive scheme standpoint, King has played in zone coverage on 55 percent of his defensive snaps in Weeks 5 and 9 compared to just 42 percent in Week 1 and 2. Maybe this is a part of the equation, maybe not, but it is a noticeable difference in what he’s been asked to do.

The most likely answer in all of this, and it’s not a specific one, is that perhaps King is just playing well. While he’s certainly taken his lumps during his career, King is still an NFL player who has had his share of good moments as well—even if they’re not always front of mind.

Whether you like it or not, King is going to continue to be a part of the defense this season. What that role ends up being in the long-run when Stokes and Alexander are healthy, we will see, but for the time being, he is going to be an integral component.

Can he keep it up? We will see, but if — and I stress the word if — King continues playing at this level, he’s going to continue to see his fair share of snaps, even with a completely healthy cornerback room.

The depth at this position was a big concern of mine entering the season, but with the emergence of King, Douglas, and Sullivan, along with Alexander and Stokes, all of a sudden this Green Bay Packers cornerback room looks pretty good.