Defensive tackle Kenny Clark’s importance on the interior of the defensive line has can’t be overstated. He aligns all over the interior. He is athletic and strong enough to take on double teams, beat one-on-one blocks, and impact both the run and pass game. Clark lines up as a 1-tech, a 3-tech, and a true nose directly over the center. The ability to move around from play-to-play gives defensive coordinator Joe Barry a ton of flexibility to create advantageous matchups.
1-technique and 2i-technique
As a 1-tech, he has to be able to withstand a double team from the center and the guard. A good 1-tech ensures that the 3-tech and the rest of the line gets one-on-one matchups. Whether they’re a true 1-tech or a 0, they have generally the same role. They are absolutely critical to run defenses. They make everyone else’s jobs much easier and allow for linebackers to fill as they contribute in the run game.
On the early 4th down stop against the Rams, Clark ate up a double team and allowed linebackers to penetrate the backfield. On this play, he aligns as a 2i on the inside shoulder of the guard. Since he’s in the A-gap, he’s going to have the same duties as he would if he was in a 1-tech over the center. Los Angles is trying to run outside the zone, but Clark immediately occupies the left guard which prevents them from climbing up to the second level. The center also must now help on Clark which allows safety Adrian Amos to fly in for the tackle.
Just because Clark lines up inside the guards doesn’t mean he’s always going to be doubled. Joe Barry can still get him one-on-one matchups where he can impact the passing game. The Packers have no fear about moving him around and if they sense a mismatch, they’ll slide him over that player and let him go to work. In their game against the Vikings, Joe Barry put Clark over the center in a 1- or 0-technique for a lot of the game. Clark won the matchup with his combination of power and speed.
By alignment, a 3-tech is much more difficult to double team in pass protection because they are isolated on a guard. In an even front, a 3-tech will be paired with an EDGE defender to his side. Meanwhile, the center has to work on the 1-tech or nose defender. Thus, the isolation of the 3-tech on the guard.
Clark relies a lot on his bull rush, but he also has the length to out-reach offensive linemen. When he is able to shed the hands of the offensive lineman, he’s a really tough guy to anchor against. Getting into a guard’s chest lets him long arm and use his power while preventing the guard from being able to get hands on him.
Teams will try to zone and double team away from him, but as we covered before, Clark is powerful enough to anchor and athletic enough to chase things down. On this zone play from the Seahawks, Clark is able to take on both the guard and tackle while holding the line of scrimmage. That allows linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and Adrian Amos to make the play without having to deal with any linemen coming up to block them.
Kenny Clark might not get all the stats and the sacks, but he makes an impact on every play. He can move up and down the line which is a huge boon to the defense. He can win with power and length, and he can anchor and shed in the run game. The interior guys usually don’t get a lot of love, but they allow the second level of the defense to make plays. With fellow defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster becoming a more consistent contributor this season, the Packers’ front is starting to become a problem that other teams don’t want to deal with.