Another week, another failure of the Green Bay Packers defense. This time the result was over 300 rushing yards for the Eagles offense. So why is a defense that is this stacked with talent playing so horrifically? Why would a Walmart cashier run for 100 yards on this defense? There is not any one answer to these questions, rather it is a collection of many things. One of the bigger ones this season? The absence of stellar DT Kenny Clark.
Kenny Clark has been a staple for the Packers defense since being drafted in 2016. Whether it be in run defense or pass rush Clark has led the way up front. We could list all of his accomplishments so far in his career but I feel it’s better to just point out the differences in his performance from last year to this year in the same Joe Barry scheme. Last year, in 2021, Clark recorded 64 pressures. (Which by the way is the best metric for measuring pass rushers.) This was a career high for him, edging out his previous record of 62 in 2019. Now before we give the next stat allow me to break it down for you. PFF measures defensive stops as anything within a yard or two of the line of scrimmage, as well anything behind the line, like TFLs. In 2021 Clark had 28 stops. This all accumulated to a 74.9 defensive grade in 2021 for Clark.
Now let’s talk about Clark’s performance this year. Now I must remind everyone there are still five games left to be played this season, so things may change, but as it stands Clarks performance is way down this year. Clark at the moment has 30 pressures on the season. There is virtually zero chance he even remotely approaches last year’s pressure count. As for defensive stops? Clark has 12 stops. There’s a chance he approaches his numbers from last year but even then, his performance overall has drooped. His total grade so far this year? 59.6, by far the lowest of his career.
Numbers like what I’ve just shown you are not reminiscent of the elite defensive tackle that Clark has been for the last several years. It is my belief that Clark has simply not given his all this year with how bad this defense has been performing. His performances week one through six he played well. But following this, with the collapse of the rest of the defense, his grades have been horrid. This only backs up my belief he gave up along with the rest of the defense. By no means is it time to worry about Clark on a long term basis. Under a better coordinator I absolutely believe he will return to his old days. But for now, with Joe Barry, expect more of the same absence from Kenny Clark.