Packers: Za’Darius Smith, Kenny Clark a dominant pass-rushing duo

Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith, Adrian Amos, Kenny Clark (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith, Adrian Amos, Kenny Clark (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Za’Darius Smith and Kenny Clark formed one of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL last season.

Nobody will forget the impact the Smith Bros. — Za’Darius and Preston Smith — had together in their first season with the Green Bay Packers. But we shouldn’t forget about defensive tackle Kenny Clark, either, who is one of the best interior pass rushers in the league.

The combination of Za’Darius Smith and Clark was up there with the most dominant pass-rushing duos in the league last season.

According to Pro Football Focus, Smith and Clark ranked fourth among pass-rushing duos based on PFF WAR. Given the importance of both players to Green Bay’s defense, and the success they both had last season, this isn’t surprising.

Smith led the Packers in sacks (13.5), but equally as impressive was that he led the league in quarterback hits (37). Clark had six sacks and seven quarterback hits. Considering he spends most of his time at nose tackle, his pass-rushing numbers are excellent. Both Smith and Clark represented the Packers in the Pro Bowl last season.

The success of Green Bay’s pass rush was built from Za’Darius Smith, Clark, and Preston Smith. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, this trio combined for 163 pressures, which ranks second in the NFL since 2016. Za’Darius Smith led the NFL in QB pressure rate at 14.8 percent.

Look at just about every pass-rushing statistic, and one of these three players is near the top. The Smiths, for example, combined for more sacks than any other duo around the league.

For the Packers defense to be successful in 2020, they of course need to be stronger against the run. But they’ll also be looking to build on last year’s success against the pass. That starts by getting consistent pressure on the quarterback.

The Packers will hope for a second-year jump from Rashan Gary. But with the trio of the Smith Bros. and Kenny Clark, this pass rush should be one of the league’s best once again.