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5 Guys that Have to be Good: Kyler Fackrell

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5 Guys that Have to be Good: Kyler Fackrell

5 guys that have to be good is a series that I've been running for a number of years.  It focuses on five Packers players that need to have good seasons for Green Bay to return to Super Bowl glory.  You won't see Aaron Rodgers or even Jordy Nelson on this list.  It's not a list of obvious guys that make a ton of money that have to play well for the team to succeed.  These are "X" Factors, like Desmond Bishop and Bryan Bulaga in 2010 that could mean another run at the Super Bowl.

Stay tuned to PackersTalk.com and of course CHTV the next few Fridays and Mondays for the rest of this series.

The end of the 2016 season happened on a Sunday afternoon in January in Atlanta.  Yes, it's certainly easy to pick apart Green Bay's coverage in that game.  Players were wide open, and the secondary didn't play well.  With that said, a second look at that game would show you that Matt Ryan didn't have a very difficult time stepping up in the pocket, taking his time, and finding an open receiver.

Green Bay's response to this struggle in the pass rush department was interesting to say the least.  Proven pressure men Julius Peppers and Datone Jones were allowed to leave, seemingly without much of an effort to bring them back.  Peppers was certainly old and Jones a bit out of place at outside linebacker, but they were productive players nonetheless.

Normally, a team doesn't let players at a premium position like pass rusher go unless there is a solid plan in place to replace them.  I talked a little bit about what they might be thinking in this piece here on CHTV, but that isn't a "solid" plan.  It's just a plan.

So how will that plan work out?  If Kyler Fackrell is the player that they thought he was when they drafted him in the third round.  His college film was actually exceptional.  Gordon McGuiness raves about him here at Pro Football Focus.  Using PFF's grading system (and you can say about that what you will) Fackrell graded out as the nation's finest 3-4 OLB in pass rush during his senior season.  His 25 total pass rush pressures in 110 pass rush snaps (through 10/21 of that season) are exactly the type of numbers you like to see.

The concerns with Fackrell are underwhelming tape the first year, with both high highs and low lows, and his age.  Fackrell qualifies for the Goldilocks Phenomenon, checking in far older than most in his draft class.  Fackrell needs to become the type of impact player he can be sooner, rather than later.  

Fackrell is so important to what the Packers do for two main reasons.  First, that the Packers use four edge players in a lot of nickel and dime situations.  The coaching staff refers to this as their "NASCAR" package.  I've advocated for the use of Daniels and three pass rushers, but for that to work, the Packers have to have three pass rushers.  Somone has to join Clay Matthews and Nick Perry.

Matthews is the other reason that Fackrell must succeed.  If the Packers are determined to use the veteran as both an inside and outside linebacker they are going to have to be able to use Fackrell at the outside backer position a lot.  Fackrell's length makes him a potential key contributor on the strong side of the offensive formation.

If Fackrell can succeed, Matthews can be moved around and the NASCAR package can do what it's designed to do.  That, with the additions Green Bay has made in the secondary, could provide a defense that is "good enough", much in the way the 2015 defense was.  Couple that with what I think should be Green Bay's finest offensive since 2011, and you have something.  Kyler Fackrell has to be good.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (22) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

The TKstinator's picture

Improve pass rush, improve pass defense.
I'm in favor.

Pack88's picture

Fackrells age does not concern me this is the last 1/3 or Rodgers career and GB does not need players who need two seasons to mature. Fackrell was a gamble on now and one year post surgery and 12 months in an NFL wt program should help significantly. Ross you are right it has to work.

It is not a surprise Peppers left he is 37 and the tread on the tires was thin. Even with controlled snaps his quick twitch has faded significantly and fresh legs were needed! Jones surprised me a bit but we shall see- most Packers go to Minnesota to die (the elephant graveyard) .

Handsback's picture

I think either Fackrell or Elliott will need to step up. I think Fackrell will be much better but Elliott has a few years of experience on him.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I expect to see Fackrell on the field a quite a bit on passing downs. Probably not so much on short downs, but who cares? If the guy can take the next step rushing the passer and also effectively drop into a zone, like the article says, he can really help. On the other hand, if he's forced to be on the field often on running downs that will probably not be good.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Nice article. I've reached the same conclusion. We need Fackrell to play 700 snaps at an above NFL average pace as a pass rusher and dropping into coverage. His run defense can be less than that, and probably will be. Part of this is I don't have too much optimism about Eliiott. I expect Biegel to look like a 4th round rookie who will give us 100 to 200 snaps, with highs and lows.

croatpackfan's picture

Repecting your knowledge and experience, TGR, I thinks that Vince Biegel will positively surprise many of you. I was watching several Badgers games and I thinks that Vince is better LB than younger Watt. I think Packers made right choice with picking Biegel over Watt. I think TJ Watt should say huge "thank you Vince" for his status in the draft...

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Hope you're correct, Croat. Biegel looks like he needs a year in an NFL weight room to me to work on lower body strength. His punch looks pretty good. Doesn't shed, and gets overwhelmed too much. No bend to speak of. There are things to like, he is fluid, but he looks like an off the ball LB.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

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Nick Perry's picture

I think other than Taryn I was one of the biggest fans of the Frackell pick in 2016.The guy is made to play the position of OLB and even though he's a tad older, he's not the type of person who'd waste even one day not trying to get better.

He seems to be the type of guy who's been in the Packers training facility every day he could in the off season to improve which is pretty much what he did. He's gained 10 pounds of muscle which hopefully he'll be able to keep on during the season. Frackrell's one of the guys I'm most excited about this year for the Packers.

Tarynfor12's picture

" I think other than Taryn I was one of the biggest fans of the Frackell pick in 2016."

Sorry,...I'm more than a fan of Fackrell, he was my selection for OLB for the Packers.

stockholder's picture

HAS TO BE? I don't believe Fackrell will be Good. Needs to get off blocks better. His stock is on a down swing. Slower than advertised. Play speed: Not much difference between Fackrell and an elephant. Lowrey gets his playing time.

Ross Uglem's picture

Lowry and Fackrell don't play the same position.

stockholder's picture

Duh. I knew that. I'm saying Lowry will play more. But people change.

Ross Uglem's picture

right, but because they don't play the same position Lowry's increase in playing time would not have an effect on Fackrell's decrease in playing time. It's like saying if Ricky Jean-Francois plays more Jake Ryan might not see as much time........

lucky953's picture

Ross hits it on the nose. Can Nick Perry play an entire season like he did the last 4 games? Can Mathews return to some semblance of a consistent playmaker? Those are big maybees. Then who? Elliott is an Erik Walden type guy to me. Biegel is a rookie about to get his eyes opened about the NFL game. Fackrell has the ability and he's got to produce 8-10 sacks and regular pressure. The coaches must think he's ready. I think he can do it.

Bearmeat's picture

In addition to health of CM3, Daniels, Perry and HHCD, three of the following need to be solid to very good for the Packers defense to rank around 10-12th, and 4 or all 5 for it to be truly good:

Clark - a MUST at NT
2 OLBs out of Fackrell, Elliot, Biegel
King and either one of our awful CBs from the 2015 draft
2 5 Techs - Lowry or RJF or Adams
at ILB - Jones and Either Martinez or Ryan

That's a lot to HOPE for guys. And it would be unnecessary if TT had retained the services of another veteran OLB....I'm not giving up. But I will say this defense looks a lot like groundhog day. The same movie we've been seeing since 2012.

Ross Uglem's picture

frankly the movie was pretty different in 2015. This team has a lot of that same personnel.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The 2017 team probably will have a lot of the same personnel, around 45% the same. But it won't have a CB like Shields who doesn't need too much help over the top, or Hayward and Hyde providing depth and/or practically starting. It won't have a 2015 version of Peppers with Neal providing depth. It won't have any semblance of a true NT, like it did with Raji, Guion and Pennel.

DL: (1/5) Daniels, everyone else is different;
ILB: (2/3) Ryan and Thomas;
OLB: (3/6) CM3, Elliott, Perry;
CB: (2/5) R&R (should I count Gunter's 8 snaps?);
S: (2/5) Clinton-Dix, Burnett

4zone's picture

We need to be able to collapse the pocket from the middle, otherwise the QB just steps up and the edge rushers go on by. If we can take that away, we have guys who can wreak havoc.

donnyanderson44's picture

If Frackrell can step up, with the addition of Josh Jones and King and they speed they posses I can see Capers devising some interesting blitz packages.

marcopo's picture

Every year it's basically the same story. Who will take the step. Turning potential into kinetic. That said, I'm very optimistic where this D will be in '17. Clark is the key. If he continues where he left off all the pieces gain.

PETER MAIZ's picture

Fackrell must step up.....but he may not.

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