Football works when each player does what he is asked.
In Green Bay, Blake Martinez accepted the role of “clean-up guy” as he was often the only true linebacker on the field. Authentic Kyler Fackrell Jersey, meanwhile, became a role player for the Packers last season after having 10.5 sacks the year before that.
The great mystery is what the Giants defense will look like under coordinator/assistant head coach Patrick Graham, but if Martinez has any say, it would include more Fackrell as the two Arizona natives reunite.
“He’s an amazing player and I think there is a lot of things that he hasn’t been able to show because of certain kind of depth chart things, certain roles he was placed into,” Martinez said Monday during his introductory conference call with Giants reporters. “Obviously, he had a 10-sack season two years ago. This last year he was a role player that stepped in and did a lot of great things.”
After Fackrell’s breakout season, his third in the NFL, the Packers signed former Raven Za’Darius Smith and former Redskin Preston Smith. They each went on to post double-digit sack totals in 2019 while Fackrell’s dropped to just one. In 2019, Fackrell played 422 defensive snaps with no starts. The year before, he had 623 snaps and seven starts.
Joe Judge has made it clear in his first three months as head coach of the Giants that every player will have an opportunity to compete for a job. They will have to earn it, though.
“I think he is one of the best zone coverage linebackers in the NFL in my opinion,” Martinez said of Fackrell. “What he has been able to do for us and what he’s been asked to do, he’s done a phenomenal job and I know he is going to be a great asset to this team and show people a lot of great things this year.”
In addition to their reunion, Martinez and Fackrell also have experience with Graham, who spent the 2018 season as the Green Bay Packers’ inside linebackers coach and defensive run game coordinator. Mike Pettine took over as defensive coordinator that year.
“Just from understanding Pat and what he is looking for and how he put forth certain things in Coach Pettine’s defense, I think it’s just the aggressive nature,” Martinez said. “Everyone working together, everyone on the same page, everyone communicating. Everyone is going to know exactly where to be and what to do on every given call. There’s not going to be much, if any, mental errors at all. I know he stressed that a bunch.
“I don’t know if it is going to be simple but it will be understood by all 11 that are out there. Overall, there is going to be a lot of freedom for me to make checks, make calls and adjustments on a given play pre-snap to give guys chances to make plays. There is going to be a lot of communication across the board.”