Fullback Update

Posted: August 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 54 Comments »

Prior to the Tra Thomas retirement, Andy Reid gave an injury update and then answered some general questions.  Someone asked if FB was a certain spot for the Eagles.  Reid responded that FB is a required position for the WCO.  Interesting answer.

Reid didn’t expand on this answer very much.  Of course the playbook calls for a FB on some plays.  Does that mean you dedicate a roster spot to FB, despite the fact he’ll only be in on 10-15 percent of the snaps?  Some of them are critical plays so there is logic to having a FB.

What I find interesting about this is that the Eagles are so passive about the position.  Stanley Havili wasn’t a good blocker at USC.  He did have shoulder problems and might be better.  We don’t know because the Eagles did little running out of the I-formation up at Lehigh and almost none in the preseason opener.  How the heck are we supposed to train Havili to do the job or find out if he can do it without running Iso plays?

To challenge him, we brought in a UDFA named Emil Igwenagu, a FB/TE tweener.  He has some potential, but would be a more appropriate fit for a team with a proven vet at FB.  If Iggy then is great, you give him the job.  If Iggy isn’t, no big deal.

I don’t want to make it sound like the Eagles have made some glaring mistake.  I think that would be over-stating the case.  I do question their methodology, assuming that they plan on keeping a FB.  I’ve seen nothing from Havili or Iggy that makes me think they deserve a roster spot.  If you truly want the best 53 players, neither should make it.  If you must keep a FB, then Havili would be the choice.  If you feel a FB is needed, why not have a better set of players fighting for the job.  Havili would be a good challenger to a vet.  Instead we’ve got a project challenging a project.

I was encouraged by Havili’s showing on STs.  That is a critical part of making this roster as a FB.  I know he can run and catch.  Now let him show that he can be a lead blocker.  If he does that, I’m fine with him getting the job.  Owen Schmitt wasn’t great.  He was effective.  We need a replacement who can also be effective at a minimum.

* * * * *

Bad news.  Iggles Blitz hero Marlon Favorite was signed by the Redskins.  They lost NT Chris Neild to an ACL injury.  I’m glad Marlon got a job, but his addition has to make the Skins the Super Bowl favorites now.  How in the heck do you block a DT that can fly?  This is like going back to the Revolutionary War and handing the British a bunch of M-60 machine guns (for fighting rebels), cases of Fruit Roll-Ups (for fighting scurvy), and copies of P90X (for fighting fat).  We couldn’t have beaten them in that situation.  Simply impossible.

Now we have the football version of that scenario.  Howard Mudd has to teach the interior guys how to fly (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style) so that they have any hope of slowing down Marlon.  The horror.  The horror.

* * * * *

Colt Anderson isn’t off the PUP list yet.  He says he’s ready, but is being told to take it slowly.  I think Colt is simply dying to get on the field.  He wants to play now.  Thankfully the trainers, doctors, and coaches are taking their time.  You don’t rush an ACL recovery.  We’ve done that in the past and the results weren’t good.

* * * * *

Asante Samuel was burned for a long TD by Bengals WR AJ Green in the Thursday night preseason game.  Samuel squatted on the route since it was 3rd down and played the chains.  Green got behind him with ease and was wide open for the score.  This is the part of Asante I won’t miss.  The first time I see him grab a ball and head up the field for 40 yards…that will be the guy I do miss.  High risk, high reward player.  I am curious to see how he fares for the Falcons.

* * * * *

Reuben Frank got some good quotes from Jason Kelce on the LT situation.  Jason thinks King Dunlap deserves the job now.  As Kelce points out, there is still time left for this thing to change.  The next 2 preseason games will be critical for Dunlap and Bell.  I just want one of them to show he can be a solid starting LT.

Roobs also wrote an interesting piece on the DL and how they are mostly castoffs.  This point hadn’t really occurred to me.

Cole – late rounder
Jenkins – UDFA
Landri – late rounder
Babin – was 1st rounder, but became journeyman and was cut by teams
Dixon – UDFA
Thornton – UDFA
Hunt – UDFA who had to go to the CFL

Pretty crazy, huh?

Dave Spadaro interviewed Phillip Hunt today.  Hunt said he was 255 pounds leaving Lehigh.  Last year he was 245.  Hunt can add on a couple of pounds.  Training Camp is hard on the players and guys will burn through pounds.  For some that is good, for others…not so much.  Hunt is fine at 255, but 260 would probably be ideal for him.  He can keep his burst, but will anchor better on run plays that happen to come right at him.

I was disappointed that Hunt never talked about the Elsinore Brewery.  What a hoser, eh?


  • DaO_Z

    I was the last one left after the nuclear holocaust, eh. The whole world had been destroyed, like U.S. blew up Russia and Russia blew up U.S. and Canada. Fortunately, I had been offworld at the time. There wasn’t much to do. All the bowling alleys and dounut shops had been wrecked. So’s I spent most of my time looking for beer.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5OfoUMwXoc&feature=related

    • TommyLawlor

      Great clip.

    • CampDracula

      That joke was posted in 3-B. 3 beers and it’s looking’ good eh.

  • Baloophi

    Marlon – “The horror. The horror.”

    Very nice, sir.

    • A_T_G

      I’m envisioning Vick scrambling out of the pocket and Marlon flying after him. We were all lucky enough to see Marlon demonstrate his ability to fly. Now that he is a Redskin, we can be glad he is more of a VTOL aircraft.

    • TommyLawlor

      I’m glad someone appreciates the reference.

  • http://twitter.com/deshawnbentley Kobe

    Heard anything about Vontaze Burfict? 5 tackles last week, 4 this week in limited time.

    • TommyLawlor

      Picked off Tebow last week on tipped pass. Burfict doesn’t lack potential. You can watch his highlight clips and see that. Being consistently good is a whole other story. Also being around NFL men and tough coaches is the best thing for him. Needs to grow up in a huge way.

  • Anders

    It seems that Reid really hope Havlii can be Weaver clone.

  • A_T_G

    So, Asante is blue because he misread Green?

    • TommyLawlor

      Preseason material. Better step your game up in September, my friend.

  • http://twitter.com/alex_karklins Alex Karklins

    I’m circling 11/18 on my calendar now. I’m guessing the “Marlon Favorite” game will be just as epic as the first “TO” game against the Cowboys. Lots of bad blood will be on display, I’m sure.

    That GIF never gets old.

  • Mac

    How many of those D-line would be here if we didn’t have Washburn on board? The only 2 you can say with stone cold certainty are Cole and Dixon right?

    It’s good to hear an update on Colt Anderson. That dude is a straight up football player, such a shame that he got injured and I am definitely wishing him the best and a full recovery!

    After my desire to dump the FB position last year, I am growing increasingly tired of a wasted roster spot. Are the Eagles pushing this position on us so they can justify another low cost player on the roster? And I echo you’re sentiment that if we “need” a FB to run the WCO then why haven’t we had a good one since Weaver? OR is Andy being subtle and hinting at the fact that he’s tired of calling what the Eagles do a WCO? (because I don’t think it is a WCO)

    • hakim bryant

      You can also patterson and Grahm to the list of d-line men that certainly would have been here if not for washburn

      • Mac

        Yep, wasn’t even thinking about the guys who weren’t on the list. Haha thanks!

    • ICDogg

      Well, if we could get a real difference-making fullback, like Marcel Reece, it would certainly be worth having.

  • austinfan

    What’s a fullback? Do they use them in college anymore?

    With Mudd’s blocking scheme, they almost never run out of the “I”, and with Harbor showing significant improvement, they’ll probably go 2 TE 50% of the time this year (from 37%), especially with a shaky situation at LT.

    Problem for the Eagles is they don’t have much use for “battering ram” FBs who are miniature OGs with similar hands and open field moves. Weaver was the perfect FB for this team, but good luck finding another FB who can catch, run out of the one back and is 250 lbs with 4.6 speed – Harbor is probably closer than any FB you’re gonna find, unless Havili’s head gets really big the next couple years.

    • Anders

      Havilii can all that, the big question is if he can lead block and pass protect.

  • ceteris_paribus1776

    I was thinking about Asante and the risk/reward trade-off. When you pick off the pass you end the opponents drive and don’t allow points. He does this, what six times a year on average? However when you gamble and give up a big play a resulting td you’re obviously allowing points on that play. How many times a year do you expected this? Handful at least. Directly allowing points is much more detrimental than not allowing points on any given drive. I wonder when it comes down to it if it is risk reward trade-off doesn’t fall on the risk side? I mean obviously he breaks up passes and those other things to add to the positives but just in terms of playmaking ability I’m not entirely sure if his playmaking ability is worth the money that he gets

    • Mac

      I think the reward side was greater a few years ago, but as with most NFL players he is approaching the wall. Teams will definitely be running the ball his way, which gives an advantage of knowing that 60% of running plays will go toward that side of the defense, but short hands the team as they attempt to play 10 vs 11.

      Will Asante line up against Steve Smith this year? If so, that should be an interesting battle as Smith is a fast and physical player.

    • TommyLawlor

      It really will be interesting to see how he plays in Atlanta. He’s got a veteran DC in Mike Nolan. He’s got other solid CBs around him. LB talent is uneven (he’ll have flashbacks). Poor pass rush, though.

      I’m not cheering against him so much as I am curious to see how he plays. I want him to get burned a couple of times so we don’t have to deal with the wrath of Asante fans, but I won’t be cheering for him to have a bad year. Asante was fun for a couple of years. I’ve got fond memories of 2008, 2009.

      • Anders

        Samuel is his best when he is on a good blitzing team. That way its much easier for him to anticipate and jump routes because the QB do not have the time for the WR to run a double move.

        • http://twitter.com/ProtoTyler Tyler Phillips

          Agreed, but ATL isn’t (or hasn’t been) a very good blitzing team. And this is on top of only having a marginal pass rush. He will struggle this year.

          • Anders

            Agree

    • iskar36

      Derek wrote out an analysis of a very similar question on this with Asante right after the Eagles Almanac came out.

      http://www.igglesblog.com/iggles_blog/2012/06/wednesday-notebook-dump.html

      I think people make too much of Asante being a “risk-reward” type player. He is (at the very least, was) a fantastic corner when it came to coverage. His tackling was absolutely a huge weakness, but I think it is hard to objectively argue he was not among the best cover corners in the league.

      • Anders

        I think everybody acknowledge he is good in terms of the charting numbers, but they dont tell the whole story because we do not know what he is getting credit for and not. Based on the numbers (especially the TD numbers) its clear he is not getting discredit when he abandonment the play call and decides to free lance.

        • iskar36

          Yea, but at the same time, it is not fair to assume TDs on his side are automatically his fault because he freelanced. Tommy has been insisted that the Fitzgerald TD on Jarrett was on Asante, and that may be 100% true, but that doesn’t mean Asante gave up 10 more TDs like that. You are right that there is a grey unknown area with CB statistics that we are not 100% sure about when it comes to Asante and his freelancing, but that does not mean it is such a negative that Asante goes from being a great CB statistically to a bad one. There still is a reason QBs tended to throw away from Asante a lot. If he was so easy to beat on double moves, the NFL would have attacked him all throughout his career with that and he would have never had the kinds of numbers he has, regardless of the flaws those numbers may have.

  • aceandson

    The Eagles struggles in short yardage and the red zone can’t be solely attributed to a weakness at FB -but it sure can’t help.

    That’s one concern about the way the position has been handled. If the team wants to improve its goal to go packages, you would think some strong lead blocking would be part of the plan.

  • Mac

    Eagles D-line vs Cowboys O-line…

    I’m gonna post the Over/Under at 9 sacks for our 2 regular season games. What do you guys think?

    • Anders

      over in 1 game

    • http://twitter.com/ProtoTyler Tyler Phillips

      Our interior DL is going to eat that G/C/G combo alive. And whoever is going against Free will feast as well. Romo will start no more than 13 games and finish no more than 11.

  • http://twitter.com/ProtoTyler Tyler Phillips
    • T_S_O_P

      Over on Sheil’s blog there was a breakdown on how much Weaver was used 45% of snaps I think. Was he strictly a FB on all of those snaps? No way. Could Polk line up as a FB in the ISO? No. Could he line up in the sets where Leonard was the single back because of his pass blocking skills and what he bought toi the table as a RB. Yes.

    • Arby1

      Which gets into the question raised soon after the draft: could we keep both rookie RB’s and no FB? Looks like we’re leaning that way.

      • A_T_G

        Let’s not jump the gun. The article says that Marty admits it is theororetically possible, but he hasn’t actually been used that way. That’s a far cry from leaning that way.

  • T_S_O_P

    Lamar Gordon, remember him?
    Talkin’ of FBs, he was one of the first players I remember being list No.2 FB on the depth chart

    • TommyLawlor

      Good memory. I don’t recall that.

      • T_S_O_P

        Moreover, I asked you about it back in ’05 and I think Shlynch added to my response.

  • ACViking

    RE: The Odd Evolution of the Fullback Position

    From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, when pro-football was still predominantly a running game, NFL teams were “Fullback-centric.”

    Year in and year out in those years, fullbacks were the NFL’s leading rushers — like Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, John Henry Johnson, Don Perkins, Alex Webster, Dick Bass and Ken Willard. The occasional exceptions were Gale Sayers and Leroy Kelly.

    For context, Green Bay Packer’s HB Paul Hornung — a Hall of Famer — never gained more than 681 yards rushing in a single season.
    ___________________

    In the early- to mid- ’70s, the role of the FB began to wane. The leading runners became HBs, like OJ Simpson, Larry Brown, Chuck Foreman, Franco Harris, Lydell Mitchell, and Lawrence McCutcheon.

    The last great runners out of the fullback position included John Riggins, Jim Otis, William Andrews, Mike Pruitt and the Raiders’ Marv Hubbard and Mark Van Eagen. (Ricky Bell, the great USC HB who ran up and down the Eagles’ defense in the Bucs’ 1979 Divisional playoff win out of the FB position, suffered a premature death — or he’d have had a shot at 10,000 yards.)
    ___________________

    By the late 1970s and into the 80s, FBs had morphed principally into blocking backs — as the I-formation became more popular. Even then, FBs still had their share of carries. At that point, HBs routinely were the NFL’s leading rushers, with the exception of the Falcons’ William Andrews and the Browns’ Mike Pruitt.

    There was the Eagles’ own Wilbert Montgomery, Tony Dorsett, Walter Payton, Earl Campbell, Billy Sims, Eric Dickerson, Curt Warner, and OJ Anderson. (And others, as well.)
    ___________________

    By 1985, Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense had begun to spiderweb across the NFL.

    Walsh — unlike almost all of his contemporaries — put a premium on the FB position. Walsh loved to run his WCO out of the base formation of HB, FB, SE, WR, TE — his theory being that his FBs and TEs were better athletes, and better pass catchers, than the defense’s LBs and SSs were pass defenders.

    So in 1985, Roger Craig — playing FB for the 49s — racked up over 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving.

    Around the rest of the NFL, FBs were — at that point — becoming essentially blockers and outlet receivers.

    The exceptions were in Cleveland and Cincinnati. The Browns, under Marty Schoettemheimer, ran Kevin Mack at FB and Earnest Byner at HB. In 1985, they both topped a 1,000 yards. In 1988, Walsh disciple Sam Wyche, built his SB-bound Bengals’ running game around FB Ickey Woods, supported by HB James Brooks — with Woods gaining over 1,000 yards and Brooks gaining over 900. (Woods blew out a knee on opening day in 1989 and only had 123 carries the rest of his career.) In 1989, Schoettenheimer moved over the KC Chiefs, where he continued his 2-back attack with Christian Okoye and Barry Word. But even Schoettenheimer gave up that approach, when he brought in WCO follower, Paul Hackett. Schoettenheimer was the last coach to use his FB as his primary runner — or at least to share the running responsibilities.
    _________________

    Walsh, in 1987, moved Craig to HB and used Tom Rathman as his FB — a very good blocker and excellent receiver. But at that point, even Walsh began to de-emphasize the fullback’s role as a runner.

    By the 1990s, most teams either ran out of the I-formation — like the Giants and Cowboys w/ FBs like Maurice Carthon and Moose Johnston — or used the WCO, with the FB being a blocker/receiver.

    The Eagles had Kevin Turner in the mid-90s and, in the early Reid years, Jon Cecil Martin and Jon Ritchie.

    In the 2000s, FBs became even less involved as pass receivers.
    _________________

    So in 50 years, the NFL has gone from a FB-dominated league to the absolute opposite end of the spectrum. FBs are becoming extinct.

    So when Reid says FB are a “required” position in the WCO, I’m not clear on what he’s driving at, especially given that he’s never run his version of the WCO the way Bill Walsh did.

    • TommyLawlor

      Great info.

      I was a huge fan of Bobby Carpenter’s dad, Rob. He was a bruising runner for the Giants. I assume he played FB. I would go out in the backyard and pretend to be him, running over LBs and DBs.

      Too bad Riggo was with the Skins. That caused me to hate him. Otherwise, I might have loved him. Was too young to remember his time as a Jet.

      • ACViking

        T-LAW:

        In the Eagles’ 1981 playoff loss to the Giants, Carpenter — at fullback — absolutely ran all over the Birds’ LBs and DBs. It was so painful to watch. Vermeil’s 1981 Eagles, who started 6-0, had gotten old overnight. And the G-men were about to start a decade of dominance, along with the Redskins and Riggo.

        By the way, as a Jet, Riggins was awesome. Hated him as a ‘skin.

    • A_T_G

      This seems like a good place for a question that I have. So in the backfield, you have the quarterback closest to the line, a quarter of the way back perhaps, then you have the fullback behind him and the halfback behind the fullback. It would seem to make more sense if the names of the halfback and fullback were reversed, so they lined up quarterback, halfback, fullback from the line.

      Is there a historical or logical reason for the naming convention?

      • ACViking

        A_T_G:

        My understanding is that the terms we use today were first coined by Glenn “Pop” Warner back in the 1900s while using the old unbalanced “Single Wing” formation.

        After the modern T-formation came into vogue in the ’30s, the names of the positions remained the same.

        • A_T_G

          Thanks. I looked at some info on the single wing. It showed a fullback, splitback, and tailback. Maybe the halfback term came from elsewhere and the logic was muddled by the full ack already being named?

          Your comments are always some of my favorites, by the way.

        • http://twitter.com/alex_karklins Alex Karklins

          Thanks. That always confused the hell out of me too. Tailback, split end, and flanker seem to be terms used in the college game, but not in the NFL, which I always thought was strange. Also, why do offensive tackles play on the outside edges of the line, while defensive tackles play on the interior? Football is a weird game.

    • http://twitter.com/deshawnbentley Kobe

      How do you retain such verbatim information? I’m here struggling to recall …uhhh..Corey Buckhalter or was it Correll? The RB, out of…ahhh forget it. But yeah, your recollection of events/dates/games is impressive

    • Anders

      I keep getting stunned by your knowledge about the Eagles and the NFL.

  • ACViking

    RE: T-Law’s favorite Marlon

    a/k/a “The Flying Marlon”

  • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

    I like the castoff thing. It’s almost like a movie plot.

    A bunch of castoffs, not good enough to make it on other teams, band together and destroy the evil billionaire and his prima-donna pretty Cowboys thanks to the surprise last-minute presence of one of their own castoffs, sent from a nominal rival but temporary friend: Marlon ‘Superman’ Favorite!

  • http://twitter.com/ProtoTyler Tyler Phillips

    I have been giving some consideration to this FB thing. It really just comes down to what they want out of the position this year, because the guys they are considering aren’t exactly Weaver clones. Generally the FB needs to have serviceable combo of abilities (Owen Schmitt) or be excellent in a particular area that the coaching staff values and adequate in the others (run blocking, carrying, receiving, pass protection)

    Rushing: Least Important
    Does it really matter what they bring to the table when carrying the football? Particularly when you have Shady, Lewis and (likely) Brown? I’d suspect this is the least important, at least for us, but would be a nice bonus.

    Run blocking: Less Important
    Normally this would be pretty high on the list of desired traits, but with our blocking scheme its just not that critical that they be great at it. Adequate skill at this is plenty IMO.

    Receiving: More Important
    This is likely a skill we would like for our FB to have. It sure would be nice for our FB to be a legit threat as an outlet receiver. Ideally Weaver-type skills, but must be a solid target when called upon.

    Pass Protection: Most Important
    This is probably the most important skill our FB should possess. If you cannot protect the QB, you cannot be in our backfield, period.

    Verdict: We haven’t seen enough to make any decision one way or the other yet, but I honestly think Harbor is probably the best option in this type of role. It would get him more snaps and create mismatches. I need to see more from Havili, but I think the best option would be to try to improve Harbor.