The Green Bay Packers were one of the surprise underachievers during the 2022-23 NFL season after going 8-9 and failing to make the postseason. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark was one such player who fell short of expectations on an individual level and is now taking time to reflect.
“I was up and down,” Clark told Mike Spofford of Packers.com. “I wasn't too happy about how I performed in the run game for the most part all year. Pass rush, I think I started off fast, ended up doing a pretty good job.”
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Clark has been a pillar of consistency in the past for the Packers, having been named to two Pro Bowl teams, including one just last season. This year, however, was a different story for the seventh-year nose tackle, who had the lowest run defense grade of his career (53), according to Pro Football Focus. Clark's five worst outputs against the run did coincide with five Green Bay losses, almost all of which resulted in the defense giving up 20 or more points. The team's rushing prevention as a whole greatly dropped off, with the Packers giving up nearly 140 rushing yards per game (28th in NFL).
Clark, a captain, knows the kind of impact he can have on the outcome of games and has embraced his leadership role as well as the accountability that comes with it. “When I'm the anchor for this defense and being consistent, this defense plays at a different level, and I've got to be able to bring that each and every game,” Clark told Spofford.
Clark fared better as a pass rusher, but even then was more effective in spurts rather than throughout the season. He recorded three sacks through the first three games but only had two more the rest of the way. The Packers face a lot of uncertainty going forward and will undoubtedly have a more trying road ahead if Kenny Clark does not regain his past form.
With the Packers not being in the playoffs, Clark will have plenty of time to figure out why things did not go as planned for him.