The New York Giants‘ defense has struggled to rush quarterbacks in recent years. The team has not had a premier edge rusher in quite some time and has missed out on the top prospects in recent drafts, such as Josh Allen and Chase Young.
A primary pass-rusher is arguably the Giants’ biggest need. However, not having that top-tier rusher might not be necessary for the 2020 New York Giants. Patrick Graham, the new defensive coordinator, is known for running an aggressive, blitz-heavy scheme that generates a fair amount of pressure. On top of that, the Giants have a solid stable of edge rushers at their disposal, the best of which being Kyler Fackrell who will provide the Giants with a huge boost to their pass rush.
Kyler Fackrell and Patrick Graham
The New York Giants signed edge rusher Kyler Fackrell to a one-year contract worth $4.6 million this offseason. Fackrell is 28 years old and has spent his entire career with the Green Bay Packers. Kyler’s time in Green Bay give him a connection to Giants’ defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
Patrick Graham worked with the Green Bay Packers in 2018 as their linebackers coach & run game coordinator. During that 2018 season, Fackrell and Graham got to know each other very well:
“We had that year together and we became super close, he was my inside linebacker coach,” Martinez said. “For me, what made me so excited to work with him this year and the following years is how smart he is. I think he is probably the smartest coach I’ve ever been around. The preparation he puts in every week, his intensity, just how much he cares about the game of football. It just allowed me to go in every Sunday or Monday or Thursday games fully prepared. I never felt like I didn’t know what play was going to happen next.” – Kyler Fackrell on Giants Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
That 2018 season was not only special because Fackrell worked with Patrick Graham. That 2018 season was also special because it was the best season of Kyler Fackrell’s career so far. While working with Graham in 2018, Fackrell played 59% of the Packers’ defensive snaps, a career-high. Kyler also started in 7 games and played in all 16. In 2019, though, Fackrell saw a huge decrease in playing time, being on the field for only 40% of the team’s snaps.
Why Kyler Fackrell Will Bounce Back In 2020
That decrease in playing time was caused by the Packers’ big free-agency additions. Green Bay signed both Preston Smith and Zadarious Smith, two highly-talented edge rushers that pushed Kyler Fackrell down the depth chart.
Kyler Fackrell will be atop the Giants’ depth chart in 2020. He will once again be coached by Patrick Graham and he will see an increase in snaps. In that 2018 season with a career-high in snaps, Kyler Fackrell recorded career-highs with 10.5 sacks, 42 combined tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 18 pressures. In addition to that, according to his former Packers and now current Giants teammate Blake Martinez, Kyler Fackrell is “one of the best zone coverage linebackers in the NFL.”
The Giants found a special, underrated talent in free agency this offseason. Kyler Fackrell is a player who has struggled to see the field, but never due to any injuries. The Packers simply did not utilize Fackrell’s skillset and they certainly did not value it more than the skillset of the Smiths.
The New York Giants will have no choice but to utilize Kyler Fackrell as their primary pass-rusher in 2020. Maybe reuniting with Graham and seeing an increase in playing time will lead to another 10+ sack season from Kyler Fackrell.