Cory's Corner: Expectations For Kyler Fackrell Are Blurred

What are expectations?

Kyler Fackrell is an interesting case study because he jumped off the page with a career year last season. He registered 10½ sacks and 42 tackles, even though he only started seven games. 

So the obvious question is, what are the realistic expectations for Kyler “Sackrell”. Is it fair to hope for another season 8-10 sacks, even though his highest sack total before last season was three?

The thing that is puzzling is that he was tied for 98thamong all edge rushers in hurries per Pro Football Focus with nine. (For context, Nick Perry had 10.)

Then again, it was proven last year that Fackrell has a knack for terrorizing the passer. He had two games with three sacks. The last Packer to do the two-time hat trick was Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila in 2001. KGB currently sits No. 2 on the Packers career sack list, so that is heady company. 

Fackrell is an interesting player because the third rounder from Utah State is an unassuming player that didn’t stand out in his first two seasons. He didn’t crack the starting lineup until Week 11 of his sophomore season and for the most part he looked lost.

But now things are going to get tougher for him. The Packers spent a whopping $118 million on Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to shore up a pass rushing attack that had been sluggish in recent years. Another twist is that this is Fackrell’s contract year. He is likely going to be playing with his hair on fire because the 27-year-old wants a hefty contract after the season.

But, what is truly expected? Is it fair to expect Fackrell to put up a couple of hat tricks as he raises everyone’s eyebrows again? Heck no. What he did last season was amazing, but that was an outlier season. 

The Packers need to see how he responds against better blockers this year. Maybe he gets chipped by a running back and/or double-teamed. Can he still get home after he goes through a plethora of blockers? If he can, then the Packers have a remarkable pass rusher that they should lock up long term. 

If Fackrell cannot show the same fire that he displayed last season, then I highly doubt that he will be a Packer next season. The Packers drafted Rashan Gary No. 12 for a reason. He fits their physical profile of who they want rushing the passer. 

The best thing that Fackrell has going right now is his grasp of the defense. He is a smart player and will automatically have a leg up on the Smiths and Gary. Fackrell and Reggie Gilbert are the two most experienced outside linebackers under Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. 

So what are Fackrell’s expectations? I would say 6-8 sacks. After the season, the Packers will be forced to make a tough decision about Fackrell’s future and it will all be based on 2019. Doesn’t seem fair because of his explosive season a year ago. 

Well, expectations usually aren’t fair either. 

 

 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (38)

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stockholder's picture

June 29, 2019 at 06:46 am

A spurt here or there. There won't be a Tough decision on Frackrell. Chances are he won't get that hefty contract from Green Bay. I really don't see any plans for him.

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TheVOR's picture

June 29, 2019 at 10:59 am

I look at it like this, he's in a contract year, "what isn't to play for"?

We'll get his best, he'll have plenty of opportunities and plenty to play for. If he can contribute, even 6 sacks in various situations, that's going to be good for Green Bay. Unless he rings up 16-18 sacks and makes some Huge Jump off the map, he'll receive interest, and intermediate level pay. Then the Packers can decide if that's worth pursuing.

It's all good!

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Mark Gaedtke's picture

June 29, 2019 at 07:18 am

I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss him. Very often it takes a few seasons for the light to come on for these guys. Hopefully he'll use last year's momentum to become a consistent rotation piece. There's no such thing as too many pass rushers on your team. Especially this team, which was pretty devoid of sacks outside of Fackrell's production.

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Coldworld's picture

June 29, 2019 at 09:49 am

Very true, but I don’t think that was the scenario here. Essentially I see it as Pettine scheming him open based upon the lack of pressures other than his sacks. That doesn’t happen if the player is beating opponents consistently, it happens when a player is doing something the defense did not expect.

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CheesyTex's picture

June 29, 2019 at 10:18 am

Nice insight, Coldworld.

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Guam's picture

June 29, 2019 at 08:11 am

I think the Packer front office already answered this question. You don't sign two pricey free agents and add your #1 draft choice to the OLB position if you believe Fackrell can generate 10+ sacks a year on a consistent basis. Neither of the Smiths nor Gary have ever recorded 10 sacks in a season, but they (Smiths) do get much more consistent pressure (hurries) than Fackrell.

The Packers have effectively relegated Fackrell to the 3rd/4th OLB spot and the number of snaps he gets will significantly limit his production in 2019. If Gary develops as advertised, Fackrell's days with the Packers are numbered as they will have more important FA signings to take care of (Martinez and possibly Bulaga depending on his health) next off season.

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rdent's picture

June 29, 2019 at 08:50 am

You can never have too many pass rushers, keep that in mind Guam.

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dblbogey's picture

June 29, 2019 at 01:38 pm

You can never have too many GOOD pass rushers.

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Guam's picture

June 29, 2019 at 03:04 pm

And you only so much money to pay people. Fackrell will be with the team this year and then likely not resigned as I doubt the Packers can afford another significant contract at the OLB position.

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holmesmd's picture

June 29, 2019 at 07:55 am

The man had a few good games last season that resulted in 10+ sacks. He does not consistently register hurries and I don’t think he had any at all. To his credit, he’s probably our 2nd best cover OLB after Smith. He better make some consistent splash plays to remain of the roster. The Packers have a lot of talent at OLB right now. Not sure how KF can stick with snaps being at such a premium at his position. We shall see! I wish him well!

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jww061356's picture

June 29, 2019 at 08:08 am

Interesting that he was also unblocked in the clip. Nobody touched him. I guess I'm a little more impressed if someone actually tries to block him.

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 29, 2019 at 11:15 am

As was Nick Perry in more than half his sacks and QB rushes and hits. But everyone cheered him as awesome and valuable.

Odds are Fackrell will not be a Packer next season so the debate is essentially moot until we see who survives preseason and regular season performance.

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dblbogey's picture

June 29, 2019 at 01:41 pm

Not everyone cheered him as awesome and valuable. In fact, very few in here did.

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 29, 2019 at 03:35 pm

Must be a magic pill that was taken by so many here that erased their memories of Perry as soon as he was cut. Were you the seller of such pill?

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NickPerry's picture

June 29, 2019 at 08:24 am

"The best thing that Fackrell has going right now is his grasp of the defense. He is a smart player and will automatically have a leg up on the Smiths and Gary."

I actually don't see it as being very blurred at all Zach. IMO the Smiths are both much better OLB, especially when it comes to stopping the run. Matter of fact Preston Smith is one of the better 3-4 OLB run defenders in the NFL. But it's not just that, both of the Smiths will bring a far more consistent pass rush too.

At the end of the day, I don't think Frackrell has much of a "leg up" at all. He may have one on Gary, but because of Rashan Gary's athleticism, I believe it will be a really short leg up. IMO Gary will be a much better run defender the day TC opens and the pads come on.

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Coldworld's picture

June 29, 2019 at 09:53 am

He is likely the current top speed rusher with decent ability dropping back. He will have a role for that reason. Whether that justifies resigning him depends on how significant that role is, whether others progress (not Smiths or Gary) to replace him and how easy the team believes it will be to replace his role through the draft.

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NickPerry's picture

June 29, 2019 at 11:27 am

"He is likely the current top speed rusher with decent ability dropping back. He will have a role for that reason."

Interesting...I've never thought quite that highly of Frackrell or those things to describe him. I thought it was a good pick at the time he was drafted and still have some hope he can duplicate last season. BUT as I've mentioned before and you yourself have alluded to in an above comment, Frackrell had the season he did last year because of the scheme. More specific Pettine scheming Frackrell himself free.

IMO those opportunities will go to Preston and Za'darous Smith more often than not and even Gary. Those three are more athletic than Frackrell, Gary being off the charts. I CAN'T WAIT to watch what Pettine can do with guys that have the speed AND power those 3 do.

Hey I hope Frackrell is all those things and more. I honestly can't remember a Packers defense with more depth and/or options Pettine has to rush the passer yet still be able to play the run on any given down... This D is NASTY and we'll see it right away early and often.

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Coldworld's picture

June 29, 2019 at 11:48 am

I have said that I think he loses snaps and sacks. That said he will still play and, if he does, will still get schemed rushes in order to retain misdirection.

I think my point is that a speed rusher has value. Despite his speed, Gary is a bigger guy who isn’t an obvious substitute, at least if one wants to use him to best advantage. Donnerson could be, if he can play: he is a superior athlete. Perhaps Summers too—I talk about that further down.

However, were Fackrell to hypothetically retire today, I think we would need a replacement that is either not on the roster or has never played a down. That’s why I think he plays and gets opportunities even though he will not be OLB 1, 2 or (by end of season) 3 assuming all are healthy. He is the definition of a role player. In his role he currently has no proven competition.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 29, 2019 at 01:01 pm

They will bring fackerell from the inside ILB spot and he can cover a bit in zone. The more the merrier in all out rush mode.

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Packer Dave's picture

June 29, 2019 at 09:01 am

6-8 sacks seems reasonable to me, even considering limited snaps. Having a 4th lb like him is pretty valuable. He's gotten noticeably bigger from 2 years ago and moves well for 265 lbs. I don't get why he gets so much grief - it's not like he's on some albatross contract sitting in the trainer's room...

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Savage57's picture

June 29, 2019 at 09:11 am

He's my nephew, so I tend to pay attention.

He's improved every aspect of his game year over year. He provided significant production rushing the passer last season, showed good discipline in pass defense, and improved his pursuit speed and angles to the extent he could run down a QB like Russell Wilson trying to make the edge.

But all the geniuses saw he had a couple tough years, know his production last year was a fluke and have declared the Smith's and Gary are better (not having played a down for the Pack) because FA's and draft picks never flop.

He already knows he'll be playing somewhere else next season, and he'll be paid well for doing so.

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Coldworld's picture

June 29, 2019 at 09:58 am

Smith, Smith and Gary are not comparable in terms of body type or what they offer. What we don’t know is how big a role he will have with the changes. That we will have to wait for real snaps and calls to decipher.

I agree that he is a good asset dropping into coverage. This is his strength and also in the context of the known roster. Sacks are, quite likely, not his stat of greatest importance to Pettine this year. How important his role is will determine how he is valued. It will be interesting to see.

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wildbill's picture

June 29, 2019 at 10:59 am

I hope your wrong about him playing elsewhere next year. Depth is so important in this league. I rewatch taped Packer games a lot, all wins of course, and it seemed he set the edge on running plays very well at times. If he does leave, thank him for being a Packer and hope he does well in the future. Except when he plays us of course!

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NickPerry's picture

June 29, 2019 at 11:35 am

LOL... No offense Savage57 but mark me down as one of those geniuses because I honestly believe both of the Smiths and hopefully Gary are better.

I think Preston will be one of the better run defenders we've had in Green Bay for years and Z Smith an All Pro in this defense.

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flackcatcher's picture

June 29, 2019 at 02:58 pm

If they stay healthy and on the field Nick. What killed the Packers last year was how thin the team was across the 53. On that reality keeping Frack (my son when younger could not pronounce his name, and shorten it to Frack. When he made it sack it was "Frack it". It's a family thing.) Is the smart thing to do.

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Coldworld's picture

June 29, 2019 at 04:05 pm

I don’t think anyone is suggesting he won’t be on the team this year.

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MarkinMadison's picture

June 30, 2019 at 07:42 am

I think the writing is on the wall with the off-season moves that the Packers made, but you never know. I don't wish him any ill, but an injury problem would probably leave him in a bad spot. Best of luck. I hope he has a great season and earns a solid contract.

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Since'61's picture

June 29, 2019 at 10:03 am

Fackrell will need an exceptional season in 2019 to be resigned by the Packers. With the additions of the Smiths and Gary, Fackrell will be a rotational player. That alone will limit his snaps and his opportunities.

The Smiths will play because they are being paid. Gary will get his share of snaps because of his speed, athleticism and he is a high #1 pick. Fackrell can stick as the # 3 or 4 OLB for the right price. Another possibility with Gute is that if he plays reasonably well when he gets his snaps Gute may try to move him via trade for a draft pick or two.

In any case if Fackrell plays well it’s better for the Pack. If he doesn’t both the Packers and Fackrell move on after 2019. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Lare's picture

June 29, 2019 at 10:36 am

There's only so much money to go around and I think the Packers will have bigger fish to fry next offseason. If Fackrell has a decent year I suspect other teams will value his services higher than the Packers.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 29, 2019 at 01:04 pm

Maybe '61 suggested moving him before the trade deadline at the end of October.

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Since'61's picture

June 29, 2019 at 07:07 pm

Yes, exactly. Thanks, Since ‘61

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MarkinMadison's picture

June 30, 2019 at 07:44 am

I think that might be the best answer, but I don't feel like Gute has gotten decent value for his trades. He has just dumped problems.

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PatrickGB's picture

June 29, 2019 at 10:05 am

Cory, you summed up the situation pretty well. I, for one, don’t see much from Gilbert. So if Fack does well and the price is right then we keep him over Gilbert. I expect The smiths to do well. So we have a good rotation going with Gary added and learning our defense in his rookie year.

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Coldworld's picture

June 29, 2019 at 11:37 am

Fackrell is about 245. Matthews came into the league about 255. Mathews also brought burst and agility at that weight. Reggie Gilbert is a little over 260. The Smiths and Gary are significantly bigger builds.

Fackrell faces challenges because he isn’t going to bull rush many. Even Matthews struggled getting off blocks at times. Gilbert is not likely to do what the Smiths/Gary can do from a strength perspective and is nowhere near the athlete Matthews was.

Fackrell is a different animal to all these players. Gilbert might now fall between the gaps with his role being occupied by one of the Smiths or Gary. Who backs up Fackrell. Maybe Gary based upon speed and run coverage, but that isn’t ideal use of Gary.

That question gives an insight to Fackrell’s value and possibly as well as suggesting that his true competition is none of the above. His back up could be Summers (similar weight but lacking the length as he is 3 inches shorter). It could be Donnerson, similar size and weight, after that there is Ramsey, Roberts and Sheldon.

Donnerson we know has the athleticism, but can he play football? Ramsey Roberts and Sheldon are pretty much unknown to me. It may be that Summers is the logical one to push Fackrell. For that reason Fackrell will have a role and Gilbert May be up against it.

Whether we resign Fackrell May depend on how well the others develop in terms of dropping back. We will always need a speed/cover player. That said speed rusher is usually the easiest position to pick up on the D. It’s the dropping back that will be the factor that determines whether such a player merits snaps. If at the year end, others do, then Fackrell will be expendable from a roster perspective.

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CAG123's picture

June 29, 2019 at 07:12 pm

Correction he has a knack for terrorizing mediocre o-lines but I like him in a rotational role and not a primary pass rusher if he does have a 8-10 sack season the Packers should offer him a contract that suits his role maybe if another team wants to overpay for his services let him go.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

June 30, 2019 at 11:13 am

There will be better players around Fackrell this season and with the motivation of a contract season, I think he will top last season's total and may very well wind up with 12-14.

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4thand1's picture

June 30, 2019 at 10:03 pm

Lot of predictions for Fackrell. If he has double digit sacks again, someone will way over pay. 12+ sacks and he prices himself out of GB. 5 or 6, maybe a Packer for life.

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Mark S's picture

July 04, 2019 at 10:58 pm

As I seem to recall one of the big gripes about Gary's selection was his lack of sacks. He got plenty of pressures but didn't finish. Now we have the opposite in Fackrel.

When I watched Fackrel last year I saw a guy that lacked explosion with either speed and power. His only assets were his hands/length, his assignment sureness/football IQ & his relentlessness. I think the Smith's, Gary, Clark & Daniels et Al will be blowing up the pass protection constantly. Perhaps a closer like Fackrel will be very handy. I can easily foresee him with a dozen sacks cleaning up following the mayhem the real rushers create. Fackrel the closer may have a big year & then be gone because we won't pay someone to just clean up everyone else's sacks

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