Skip to main content

Packers DT Kenny Clark: New defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley will 'allow us to be way more disruptive'

The Packers defense has for so long been a case of broad talent, limited execution.

Green Bay's introduction of Jeff Hafley as the team's defensive coordinator is meant to change that, and Kenny Clark believes the new coach will specifically let him and the defensive line amp up the aggression.

"Fiery, his energy ... he's going to bring it," Clark said this week regarding his first impression of Hafley, per the team website. "He's going to challenge everybody -- challenge everybody to be great. That's what you want as a coach. You want them to hold guys accountable.

"I think this scheme ... it'll be good for us up front. It's going to allow us to be way more disruptive."

Hafley's hiring comes in the wake of an up-and-down season for Green Bay's defense.

The unit ended up 10th in scoring and 17th in yards allowed despite the bottom seemingly falling out during a December stretch that saw the Packers lose to undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito and the Giants, allow Baker Mayfield a perfect 158.3 passer rating at Lambeau Field and surrender both the most points and yards the 2-15 Panthers managed all season.

Green Bay rebounded at the very end of the season and into the playoffs with a number of inspiring performances under Joe Barry, but it wasn't enough to save the former coordinator's job, nor was the overall output indicative of the talent on the roster.

Since Clark was drafted in the first round by the Packers in 2016, Green Bay has spent seven more first-round picks on the defensive side of the ball. Many have obviously come and gone, but Jordan Love remains the team's only Day 1 offensive selection in the last dozen drafts.

With the rest of the defensive team-building the Packers have done outside of just those early selections, Hafley has much at his disposal to kick Green Bay's defense into another gear -- which starts with a leader like Clark up front but will be reflected in a different philosophy rippling through every level.

Hafley's specialization was with defensive backs before becoming Boston College's head coach and then jumping to the NFL as Green Bay's DC. He favors a press-man scheme, different from how Green Bay operated for the majority of the past few seasons and a style with success often contingent on a powerful pass rush.

That's what Clark hopes to provide under the new approach, which will ask him to more frequently attack gaps rather than swallow up blocks at the line of scrimmage.

"I've always been a technical guy, but it's going to give that mentality to just cut it loose more within the defense," he said. "That suits my game well ... especially with my get-off and how I play technique."

Clark was third on the team last year with a career-high 7.5 sacks, bringing his total to 34 as a pro.

Still just 28 heading into his ninth NFL season, the three-time Pro Bowler is a pending free agent in 2025 due to the void years on his current deal.

If he and the rest of the defensive line are disruptive as he hopes under Hafley, the Packers could make even more noise than they did last year in the NFC -- and Clark could find himself in line for another lucrative contract.

Related Content