Packers: Kenny Clark helping defense reach the next level

Green Bay Packers, Kenny Clark and Preston Smith (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Kenny Clark and Preston Smith (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Kenny Clark’s return to form is helping the Green Bay Packers defense reach the next level.

Kenny Clark is one of the Packers‘ most important players on defense. But until the past month, he had been having a good but not great season.

Clark made a fast start to the season with eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble in the opening two games. But he didn’t make many more big plays in the games that followed, and the Packers were giving up far too many yards on the ground.

The defense still has a lot to prove against the run, but Clark’s return to form in recent weeks has this unit trending up.

Over the past three weeks, Clark has made 15 tackles, 3.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. He has got consistent pressure up front, and it’s no surprise the Packers have also improved against the run.

According to Pro Football Focus, Clark had a team-leading seven pressures against the Bears, which resulted in him receiving the team’s highest PFF grade on defense.

In the past three games, the Packers have held their opponents under 100 yards rushing twice. They’ve given up an average of 104 yards per game on the ground, which is a lot better than their season total of 120.9 per game. They’ve also allowed just one rushing touchdown in the past three weeks after giving up 13 in their opening 11 games.

Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith have been outstanding all season long with a combined 21.5 sacks. The secondary is in good shape with Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Adrian Amos leading the way.

Rashan Gary made his second career sack against the Bears in one of the best performances of his rookie season so far. He is finding his way in Mike Pettine’s defense.

Clark getting back to his dominant best is great news for this defense. Not only against the run but also with the interior pass rush he provides. That makes life easier for the Smith Brothers.

The defense is going to need to be much better in the playoffs that it has been for much of the year, but if Clark can continue to play at this level, the group will continue to move in the right direction. He can be an X-Factor on defense in the postseason.