Written by: Glenn Warciski
I am glad Giants fullback Eli Penny made the 53 man active roster. Although this position has been marginalized, the fullback position is making a resurgence.
The Patriots will use their fullback James Develin more and more to counter opposing defenses using smaller defensive backs.
“I think fullbacks will always have a place in the game of football,” he said. “A lot of teams kind of got away from that, but I think everything kind of works cyclically and as defenses get smaller to try to defend the pass, linebackers get smaller in particular, then there’s a little bit more of a need to have a lead blocker out there for running backs.”
I think it’s just a fundamental, schematic thing. If you want that aspect of it, of putting a guy really that can go either way in a formation then that’s good,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick of the value of a good fullback.
“The blocking angles from the backfield are different than they are from the line of scrimmage, and the ability to build a four-man surface or a three-man surface after the snap is different than being in a four-man surface and then trying to get to a three-man surface or being in a three-man surface and trying to get to a four-man surface by running the guy all the way across the ball.”
Another innovator is 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Here is his take on the fullback position.
“That’s why I use 21 [personnel] probably more than anyone in the NFL, we have a fullback in there, not just because that’s our offense, it’s because I believe that’s an advantage,” Shanahan says, using the jargon for two-back, one-tight end groupings. “People don’t play base defense very much, because the majority of the league doesn’t have a fullback. And so you get people on the field they’re not as used to practicing with.
The astute coaches are playing chess. Belichick and Shanahan are looking for creative ways to create mismatches. Indeed, they are finding ways to exploit weaknesses in opposing teams defenses. Yes the fullback is back!
As for the Giants, I did see Giants head coach Pat Shurmur use 21 personnel in the preseason. This is encouraging news. Let us hope Penny can build upon his seven carries and 8 passes caught in 2018. And help pave the way for All World Barkley to have an outstanding 2019 campaign.