Kyler Fackrell is definitely ready to play for Patrick Graham again.
The fifth-year linebacker will reunite with the New York Giants defensive coordinator after previously having him as his position coach in Green Bay in 2018. That was when Fackrell recorded a career high 10.5 sacks despite starting just seven of 16 games.
Talking with New York media on a conference call Thursday, the Utah State product detailed how Graham’s presence helped lure him to New York.
“I always loved coming into work and working with Coach Graham,” said Fackrell. “That was a big thing coming to the Giants, that he was here and the respect that I have for him.”
“He is a great coach,” added Fackrell. “The thing that I like most about him is just his passion and love for football. He’ll get up on the table and scream and yell if he needs to, but it all comes from a great place. It comes from him being grateful for the life he’s living and what he gets to do to provide for his family.”
Fackrell signed a one-year, $4.6 million contract with the Giants. Not only will he hook up with Graham again, but he’ll also play alongside former Packer Blake Martinez, who signed a three-year, $30.75 million contract with the team.
Fackrell sees himself as a “very versatile” 3-4 SAM outside linebacker.
“I love to rush, and I think I am good at it. I take a lot of pride in dropping and making plays in space as well. I know that I didn’t produce the way I wanted to last year, but I think I have a great opportunity to do that this year and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Indeed, last year marked a statistical dropoff for Fackrell, who notched just one sack over 16 games with no starts. He also recorded 23 tackles, following his 42 tackle season in 2018. Still, he feels like he was better in 2019.
“If you look at percentages and pressures per rush, I think I had 200 less rushes but ended up with more pressures than the year I had 10.5 sacks. I think as far as the way I play and getting better as a player, I think I took a step forward this year,” he said.
As for a role designation with the Giants, Fackrell said he and Graham haven’t had that chat yet. It doesn’t sound like being on the same page will be an issue for the pair.
“I’ll do whatever they ask me to do and whatever they view as best for the defense. I really look forward to what Coach Graham is going to do with the defense,” Fackrell told reporters. “I have a lot of trust in his ability, he is a really sharp dude.”
The Packers selected Fackrell on the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, 88th overall, from Utah State, where he arrived as a walk-on but started all 41 games in which he played. He registered 253 tackles (104 solo), 36 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, four interceptions (including one he returned for a touchdown), eight passes defensed, five forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries