According to FiveThirtyEight, only 14 NFL teams use a fullback. Employing one, Las Vegas enjoys impressive usage from their fullback, Alec Ingold. Initially premiering as the battering ram before Josh Jacobs in the Raiders’ run game, Ingold emerged as a player earning respect.
Ingold’s stats are nothing particularly impressive. Catching 12 passes for 110 yards in 2020, landing him 10th on the Raiders in terms of yards. As a fullback, Ingold has added an entirely new dimension to his game. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is known for mixing things up. Developing Ingold as a pass-catcher is one of his best moves.
Typically, fullbacks exist as an aggressive, sixth lineman in the run/pass blocking game and garner minimal attention from defenses. Now, fullbacks can be expected to run and/or catch the ball, and the Raiders have done an impressive job developing players into two-dimensional threats. Like the tried and true “big man” position in basketball, fullbacks of old are dying out. The new relatively pass-heavy NFL requires all skill positions to bring something additional to the table, meaning that a blocking-only fullback may lose a roster spot to a lesser blocker, but a better playmaker.
In addition to his pass-catching, Ingold tends to be quite proficient in short-yardage situations. The team may overlook this in the red zone. Establishing Ingold as a red zone threat could significantly open up the Raiders playbook within the final twenty yards of the field.
To clarify, he is not an elite pass-catching running back. Instead, a fullback that can catch and run at a much higher rate than the average. The novelty to Ingold lies in his position. He excels at his primary job, run blocking/ His presence on the field forces opposing defenses to expect a run. As a result, that allows him to typically find an empty spot on the field in the passing game. At this point, if the Raiders pass the ball with Ingold on the field, it almost becomes a “secondary play action,” Defenses read and expect a running play and that miscalculation will cost them yards.
Getting Things Done
Again, there should be no expectation of Ingold breaking records. If Ingold begins demanding coverage on his limited pass routes, Darren Waller should benefit, as a linebacker would most likely draw Ingold in coverage, opening up the field just a pinch more.