2014 Minnesota Vikings: Isame Faciane Has a Recipe for Success


I-sem FA-shawn.

That’s how you pronounce his name, and if he has his way, you probably won’t need to ask to find out. It’s evidently the third in his line, because you’ll often see the signifier “III” appended to his name, though no one calls him that. Like many of the undrafted free agents, it’s not easy to find information on him, though defensive line coach Andre Patterson, who worked with him at Florida International, has no shortage of praise for him.

As a defensive line coach who has worked with the Vikings in 1998 and 1999, as well as the Patriots (1997), Cowboys (2000-2002), Browns (2003-2004) and Broncos (2005-2006) it means a lot that he called Faciane among the “top ten percent of defensive linemen” he’s ever worked with.

The 2013 FIU season did not draw plaudits, going 1-11 in a relatively weak conference. But grabbing attention doesn’t mean missing out on the opportunity to compete in the NFL, where Faciane fielded offers from several teams before choosing the Minnesota Vikings. He says he chose Minnesota in big part due to Coach Patterson, who is implementing something similar here as he did there.

“I knew his system same type of play style at FIU. I had a little step forward on everything, and I was real comfortable with Coach Patterson. I only had him for a year him and [we] became real close throughout the season. The relationship helped me come here.”

It’s a system that has seen him change his role several times over the course of the offseason. Starting off OTAs and minicamp as a nose tackle, Faciane has been tried at the under tackle three-technique role for a significant amount of time in camp. To that end, he’s been tasked with keeping a specific weight, one that seems less fit for the nose tackle role than at three-technique.

“I came in at 300 and through OTAs and minicamp and through that process I gained like 16 pounds. I had to drop that and come back at 300. You know, stay smaller and lighter so I can play that 3-tech better, quicker steps.”

“Quicker” is something that he’s been told a few times is a key word for him. Working at  Fourth and Inches Performance Group in Dallas before the draft, Faciane worked to hone his technique and add burst to his game. Draft analyst Tony Pauline identified it as a weakness of his, but he doesn’t think it’s a big deal.

“I feel like, you know, my first step in here has been quicker but you know people have their own opinion. I just keep working and do what Coach Patterson tells me to do.”

It’s been working. Pro Football Focus gave Faciane the highest grade for the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders among all the Minnesota Vikings. At +2.6, it’s 0.8 higher than the next player—a significant difference. What’s unique about that game for him, though, is not that he was able to log a batted pass and put some pressure on the quarterback (drawing a hold in the process), he did it from both the three-technique and nose tackle positions, switching with Kheeston Randall at times along the line.


It was a good game, though he doesn’t really think highly of it. When I caught up with him in the locker room following the 10-6 win over Oakland, he told me that he still had a lot to work on.

“I feel I didn’t rush to the best of my ability. I rushed to the middle of the man a little too much during this game,” he explained, “You know, that’s been my problem a little bit through camp, rushing the middle of the man but I feel like I learned from this and try to fix it through practice for the next game.”

Attacking “half a man” is a common defensive line coaching idiom that emphasizes moving through players by working outside of their center of gravity in order to maintain a leverage advantage. In the video above, it is true that Faciane doesn’t quite do it often enough to be satisfied, and it seems as if the result of play wasn’t as important as the process to get there. Playing his best ball is important to him, and it’s a reason he has any takeaways at all from the disastrous FIU season for the Golden Panthers.

Of the season, he told FIU Student Media “I do have a bad taste from a team standpoint, but I feel as if I played my best football last season,” something that allowed him to field offers as a long-shot undrafted free agent.

And if that long shot doesn’t work out, Faciane has another plan to get the bad taste out of his mouth. He’ll open a restaurant.

Growing up with his grandmother in Louisiana, Faciane developed a passion for cooking and that played a large role in his continuing pursuit towards a degree in hospitality and tourism management. This is part of his longer plan to develop a career. He told the FIU News, “Football is a limited thing. I might have a chance to further my career and if I do get a chance I’m going to make the most of it. But once you get to the next level, there’s no promise that you’re going to be there more than two or three years.”

Just like he’s a competitor on the gridiron, it seems he’s a competitor on the griddle, too. When he gets the chance, he tries to outdo his grandmother, and he draws upon new flavors he’s begun to incorporate into his Louisiana-style cuisine—including curry flavors he picked up while at FIU. But don’t just take my word for it. Learn from him: