Packers 2017 Recap: LB Kyler Fackrell
In his first month of his first season, linebackers coach Winston Moss said he “totally confident” in Kyler Fackrell playing important snaps. By season’s end, Fackrell failed to record a sack in each of his last nine games, had been embarrassed in a primetime game by the Redskins’ Morgan Moses and missed time with a hamstring injury.
The second-year linebacker worked hard during the offseason to improve his strength. Those improvements showed off during organized team activities, mini-camp and training camp.
Those improvements showed up when you watched the team play, but they didn’t make much of a difference on the stat sheet.
- Appeared in 16 games, started 2 games
- 24 tackles, 7 quarterback hits, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks
Expectations going into the season: High
Expectations were: Not Met
What we said after last season
2016 Packers Recap: OLB Kyler Fackrell – Almost three years older than the rest of the Packers’ rookie class, there were higher expectations for Fackrell to perform as a result of his advanced age. He flashed moments of pass rushing prowess, and performed well on special teams. Heading into his second season, he has the potential to further refine his pass rushing skills and develop into a more consistent defensive performer.
Analysis: Improvement hard to see from the stat sheet, but it’s there
The Packers saw linebackers Julius Peppers and Datone Jones, who played more than 1,100 snaps on defense last season, leave in free agency. Fackrell entered the 2017 season with the biggest opportunity to increase his playing time, as Green Bay did very little in free agency and the draft at outside linebacker.
The biggest threat to Fackrell’s playing time came from rookie Vince Biegel. Unfortunately, Biegel was injured early in the offseason and played sparingly when he returned midseason.
Sacks were not in the cards for Fackrell in 2017. Edge rushers are judged and paid by their ability to get the quarterback, and that hasn’t been a strength for Fackrell.
There were other areas where the linebacker thrived. For instance, Fackrell became adept at pulling off of rushing the quarterback when he sensed a screen pass or a check down. At times, it seemed Fackrell was too quick to back off a rush, but the skill benefitted the Packers defense.
Special teams keeps Fackrell on the field, too. Against the Buccaneers, Fackrell and fellow linebacker Joe Thomas ran a twist on a punt block call by special teams coordinator Ron Zook that led to Fackrell getting his hand on the ball. It was the first blocked punt by Green Bay since Week 2 of the 2016 season.
Ultimately, age is the biggest opponent facing Kyler Fackrell. He will turn 27 years old during the 2018 regular season, just his third in the NFL. For perspective, fellow linebacker and second-year pro Vince Biegel turns 25 in July.