Devaluing Fullback

May 31st, 2014
Seems like the days of having a vicious blocker like Lorenzo Neal on the roster are a thing of the past.

The days of having a vicious blocker like Lorenzo Neal on the roster are a thing of the past.

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, 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.

30 Responses to “Devaluing Fullback”

  1. RastaMon Says:

    I predict both OL & DL will be getting lighter and faster in the coming years…..

  2. Bill Says:

    No shiz on the d-line part. Seems like, from previous comments by Lovie, that Lane has the size they want at fullback. But he needs to show up huge on ST to stick.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    At one point last year we had 4 FBs on the roster….how things have changed…..
    Joe, when you mentioned the 4….Martin, Sims, James Rainey…you left out Demps…..does that mean you believe we won’t keep him or he will be KR/PR/WR?

    Also….I would like to see us go with 2 RB sets like we did with Alstott/Dunn…And I really miss Ernest Graham….

  4. The_Buc_Realist Says:

    Due to Joe’s track record, if Joe thinks that Sims was drafted to relieve Martin, then that makes me think that Sims will be the #1 RB and other will relieve him.

  5. Lou. Says:

    I remember John MacKay saying that if he were really sadistic, he would have made Jimmy Giles a fullback.

    Seems the tight end and fullback positions have overlapped or merged.

  6. Buccinfan Says:

    Do we have any tight ends or rbs that could be hybrid fullbacks?

  7. lightningbuc Says:

    Due to Joe’s track record, if Joe thinks that Sims was drafted to relieve Martin, then that makes me think that Sims will be the #1 RB and other will relieve him.




    JOE KNOWS RBs (and QBs)!

  8. Macabee Says:

    Seattle is the new model. To ignore this is to lanquish in the doldrums of yesterday’s football. When Belichick drafted Jimmy Garropolo in the 2nd round, he wasn’t exactly saying I want another Tom Brady. Better learn!

  9. SAMCRO Says:

    Because you can only have 11 players on offense on any given play, and with today’s emphasis on the passing game, teams are deploying two and sometimes three T.E. sets in their schemes, making the FB obsolete. If not by the fact there are so many limited roster spots but really, simply by design.

  10. Architek Says:

    I wonder what we will do in goal line situations or short yardage with no fullback?

  11. Shawnbucfan Says:

    Tebow would be a great fullback

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    @ Arcitek

    We used to lose a yard with the FB….now we can just throw a little lob to ASJ, ME13,VJax, Wright, or better yet…Demar Dotson…..the 5 Dunkaneers!!!

  13. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Demar….tackle eligible…of course!!!

  14. Orca Says:

    Lou. Says:
    May 31st, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I remember John MacKay saying that if he were really sadistic, he would have made Jimmy Giles a fullback.

    Seems the tight end and fullback positions have overlapped or merged.

    The positions have been overlapping for years. And it’s spelled “McKay”.

  15. Lou. Says:

    TBBF —

    We could go all Refrigerator Perry and line up a o- or d-line player in the backfield.

    He could imitate da Bears by throwing Demps over the goal line.

  16. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    @ Lou

    Not quite a “midget toss”….but close….whatever gets the job done….

  17. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    I know his chances are not that good. But if there’s any fullback that deserves to be in the HOF-Lorenzo Neal should be your that guy. How many 1000 yard rushers did he block for? For how many seasons? Its a very impressive list when you think about it to.

    IMO-Most of this stuff is cyclical-One minute one particular style of play is in vogue-..then its not.

    When the league’s most dominate teams utilize a 3-4 defense-Teams counter by going to a Run & Shoot/Spread/Hurry Up Offense. Pushing the Fullback into more of a Half Back role-and the traditional TE out wide.

    When league’s most dominate teams- utilize more of 4-3 defenses to counter the-Run & Shoot/Spread/Hurry Up Offense-Offense hunker down and employee more traditional FB’s & TE’s.

  18. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    I wanna see how for Tedford plans to go with his multiple TE sets.

  19. SeanyMac in SC Says:

    I love the smash mouth football with a FB breaking thru the line, blocking the second level and seeing the speedy RB break loose thru the hole in the line. I guess when the FB is lined up, it makes the offense too predictable and easier to defend. The TE is being used effectively much more now a days. The league is changing. Bucs need to change with the league trends.

    Off topic, Joe(s) you might want to go easy on the craft brew bashing when one of your main customers (Hooters) is promoting it so heavy with banner ads across the top of your pages. I understand your dislike for “skunky” over priced beer but don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Just saying.

  20. BucsQcCity Says:

    I miss Alstott

  21. teacherman777 Says:

    And Demps?

    If he stays healthy throught he preseason. He will be on the team. Tedford will be very happy to have a speed demon like him.

    Martin, Simms, Demps, James

    Rainey on call if somebody gets hurt.

    Go Bucs!

  22. Jim Walker Says:

    Demps wont make it out of the preseason. He is made of glass.

  23. Espo Says:

    I have a feeling our surplus of tight ends will fill the role, sometimes lining up in the backfield.

  24. Architek Says:

    Dude you are hilarious but in a weird way you’re actually correct

  25. Back, from Davie Jones Locker Says:

    Jovorskie Lane.
    Wow. He is Thick and powerful
    5’11- 270
    Don’t really know if he has a shot, until they Unveil “the Tedford”
    But all signs point to a WR/TE heavy offense.

    But, it’ll be fun watching guys trying to tackle him during the preseason. Like tackling a VW.

    And I don’t want a guy ,that short and heavy, blocking me.

    If they keep a Fullback, he has a unique skill set

  26. Back, from Davie Jones Locker Says:

    Hey Joe,
    Can you delete my previous post. It has an unknown number pasted in it

  27. Jeffobrien Says:

    Shawnbucsfan get over tebow he would make a great college qb. Did that he’s done. We are set at rb but I think using a te as fb is a great idea they are great blockers and can catch so it wouldn’t be tipping are hand to what we’re doing.since we’re loaded at both positions this might be the toughest cut on the team. Either way one of our runningbacks and tight ends will be picked up immediately by another team Hopefully we can trade James or Rainey. And with any luck trade stocker

  28. Oahubuc Says:

    I miss fullbacks, and that Rhino backfield with Neal and Alstott is one of my favorite Buc memories.

  29. Back, from Davie Jones Locker Says:

    Thank you,Joe.
    Man, I loved the Rhino backfield.
    Thanks OahuBuc- for bring back those memories.
    Lorenzo Neil didn’t get a lot of recognition.
    But didn’t it seem like everytime he went to a team- they had an inexplicable turnaround on Offense?

  30. Yossarian Says:

    Maybe I am not remembering correctly, but I think Gruden used to use a TE as a fullback on some plays, particularly play action rollouts. Considering that blocking is a fundamental part of the TE’s responsibility, perhaps Tedford will use the TE in the FB position. I expect the Bucs to run a lot of 2 TE formations. And maybe using the TE in the FB slot can add some mystery to the playcalling.