Devaluing FullbackMay 31st, 2014
It wasn’t that long ago the fullback position was almost as important to an offense as a quarterback. The fullback was the lead blocker, and in some cases, the battering ram in short yardage situations.
Of course, Mike Alstott sort of blew apart the concept of fullback. As he grew older, he improved as a blocker, but make no mistake, he was a runner first, a pass-catcher second. And damn, when he got rolling it was beautiful football.
Now, there is very real chance the Bucs may enter the 2014 regular season without a fullback. Consider the musings of multimedia maven Scott Smith, of Buccaneers.com, discussing the Tampa Bay running backs.
I’ve made a point of noting that [Charles] Sims was a very productive runner at both West Virginia and Houston, since he seems to have been pigeon-holed since the draft as a pass-catcher only. Still, we can’t ignore that it is his pass-catching ability that [Bucs coach Lovie] Smith cited immediately after the Bucs drafted him, and that Smith has referenced that potential role for Sims on several occasions since. Right now, Sims seems like the most likely of the three [running backs] behind Martin to be involved in the offense on Sundays, but I still believe it will be in a complimentary role to Martin.
The Bucs could very well keep all four of those backs on the roster, but even if they did they would likely only have three of them active on any given game day. So in this scenario you have Martin starting, Sims taking a handful of carries in his place and perhaps also serving as the third-down back and either [Mike] James or [Bobby] Rainey taking some series from Martin as well.
Notice all the names Smith mentions and nary a one is a fullback? How times have changed not just for the Bucs, but for the NFL. Fullback seems like an endangered species.
Joe guesses there is no place in the current football world for a Lorenzo Neal-type, a guy who may not have been much of a runner or a pass-catcher, only a bone-rattling blocker.
Smith seems to be thinking like Joe, in that Sims was drafted, in part, to spare Martin and keep Martin on a pitch count so he doesn’t burn out so fast.