Green Bay Packers: Rookie report entering final stretch of season
By Kenn Korb
In the opening month of the season, Fackrell was the rookie who had me the most excited. In those four games, he didn’t receive many snaps (only once did he go above 14 snaps), but he was very effective in those opportunities. He put up nine tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in 65 total snaps. It seemed like he was performing at a level that would garner him more snaps even in a crowded position that included Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Julius Peppers.
Despite that group suffering through injuries and ineffectiveness however– most notably from Matthews — that hasn’t come to pass.
Fackrell continued to see low snap numbers as Matthews missed time and Peppers was mostly used in short stretches to keep him fresh, with his only contest above 20 snaps in that span coming in a game-long blowout in Nashville. After that point, his numbers have somehow dropped off even more, with a mere two coming against Washington and then zero the past three weeks.
With inconsistency running rampant in terms of the Packers applying pressure — when they have gotten to the quarterback, it has tended to be few and far between — it seems like the smart move would be to add a player who had been doing well in limited time back into the fold in a larger role.
But, as has been an issue for Green Bay all year, a big part of why Fackrell hasn’t been seeing time is due to an injury. His hamstring has bothered him to the point he’s essentially missed those past four games. Even had this injury not been a problem this doesn’t mean Fackrell would be getting the call, however.
Green Bay has often shown they will use safeties in coverage and on blitzes instead of linebackers due to injuries in the middle; it isn’t quite the same situation, but going smaller like that while focusing more on coverage and hoping their guys up front can bully their way through opposing line themselves could be an angle they lean on more often.
Against Seattle, we saw some of this. Green Bay took on the safety-for-linebacker swap, essentially having Morgan Burnett act as a linebacker. Other players stepped up even as Clay Matthews saw just 24 snaps on defense and Nick Perry is essentially finished for the year; Peppers got 50-plus snaps for the second straight game, Datone Jones had an above average game in his second straight 40-plus snap game, and Jayrone Elliott picked up a nice stat line (five tackles, one sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, one QB hit) in his second straight 20-plus snap outing.
It is a shame Fackrell has been unable to get on the field as injuries have piled up at his position. For now it appears the Packers may have enough to withstand some of their injuries, but were he to be healthy Fackrell would have a prime opportunity to do the level of work we saw from him in the first quarter of the season. Hopefully he can heal up enough to make that a reality.