If you had chance to read one of my previous columns, you will know I looked into the Patriots and their fluid identity. (If you didn’t, check it out: here) Well, this caused my mind to wander to maybe one of the more versatile positions of football: the fullback.
With all the uncertainly of 2020 do the Patriots have a fullback to fall back on?
The fullback position is generally under rated and not used extensively league wide, it’s normally not a huge play making position but I think it might just be a key one, particularly in a team, the Patriots, that is really ploughing ahead with strength at the run game.
James Develin was a rather beloved member of the Patriots Dynasty. It is ironic for how important he was to the Patriots offense that he almost didn’t make it into the NFL, at all.
Playing as a defensive end in College, he converted to a fullback during his time under Jay Gruden in the UFL but that just shows the versatility of a fullback.
I am sure that I do not need to tell you how the Patriots missed him in 2019 following his neck injury in the second game of the season.
But back to the present, as you are probably aware, the Patriots drafted Dalton Keene from Virginia Tech initially as a tight end (cue small squeal over here…) but with the jersey number of 44 it obvious Coach Bill is looking to use this kid’s versatility to perhaps put him in the full back spot more often than not. (Between you and me I am seriously eager to witness this.)
With the COVID opt outs we saw the mouth wateringly anticipated Dan Vitale decide to sit out this crazy year. I certainly don’t blame him an ounce, but I am definitely looking forward to (hopefully) seeing this guy in Patriots blue next season.
So even with the absence of Vitale, the Patriots do still have an out and out fullback in Jakob Johnson. The major plus is that as Johnson is on the International Player Pathway program he does not take up a roster position.
When you really delve into the statistics of a fullback, you can see the fluidity of the position. (don’t worry I’m not here to throw lots of numbers at you) For example, in the week two game against the Miami Dolphins, Johnson played half of the special team snaps, served as the offences lead blocker in the passing game on the goal line and sneaked through to get a touchdown.
So I’ve got to say folks, as much as I adore the tight end position, delving into the details of fullback has given me unanticipated appreciation and perhaps a little love slowly developing for the good old FB too.
With the wide expanse of duties, a fullback needs to be as good as anyone on the field and that is why falling back on your fullback can be a risk. However, when he sneaks across the line to score a touchdown and the other teams jaws are scraping the floor?? …darn it feels good!
Although now released again, the multiple appearances of Paul Quessenberry, another tight end/fullback combo, definitely hints that not only does Coach like Navy guys (I mean who can blame him!?) but he knows how key a player in those roles can be.
Hey if it’s good enough for Coach,
it’s darn good enough for me. I will be ‘falling back’ and keeping my ever sharpening eye on the guys in the jerseys in the forties.