*Khaled's NFL Daily: May 16, 2013
The strains of producing the NFL Daily have clearly taken their toll on our once-fearless leader, Neil Hornsby. Now the half-man, half-protein shake founder of PFF has taken himself away for the day to enjoy a day of sun and beer. The upshot? Well the NFLD will be hosted by a younger and sexier specimen in myself.
But with this being my time to shine, what to talk about? Neil has brought you some good stuff this week when he’s looked at which players have drawn the most flags as well as some stuff on which guards were earning the most positive grades from us. Well, as a quick recap on the events of yesterday, I’m going after the fullbacks with some data you won’t get anywhere else.
Thursday, May 16
Following the Fullbacks
Who doesn’t love a good, crunching lead block? You know the kind… I-formation, the guard and tackle open up the b-gap, the fullback rams through like a man possessed and wipes the linebacker out of the play as his running back scampers all the way home for a score.
But what a fullback does and how they are viewed are often two very different things. Reputations are often made with a few highlight reel hits, and then you get the adulation if your top back has himself an impressive yards per carry. But look at it this way. Last year only 19 players lined up at the fullback spot (whether I formation or Offset I) on more than 100 occasions, and only 36 were used at least 50 times.
Now, of those, it won’t surprise anyone to know that in terms of the highest yards a team rushed for when a player was lined up at fullback, Jerome Felton led the way with a 6.3 yard per lead block average. In fact only he and the recently released Patrick DiMarco (6.2) averaged anything over 5 yards per lead block.
But what’s more interesting to me isn’t the yardage they managed or even how many touchdowns (where the Texans had 17 rushing touchdowns with James Casey lined up at fullback), it’s the success rate their teams had when they were lined up at fullback. For those wondering how we determine a “success rate”, I’ll define it the same way a number of the teams we work with do: collecting 40% of required yardage on first down, 60% of required yardage on second down, and 100% on either third or fourth down.
The results are interesting.
Fullback Success No Success Total Plays Success Rate
Henry Hynoski 103 114 217 47.47%
Will Tukuafu 28 32 60 46.67%
Jed Collins 69 91 160 43.13%
Charles Clay 28 37 65 43.08%
Jerome Felton 108 144 252 42.86%
Vonta Leach 103 143 246 41.87%
Darrel Young 82 115 197 41.62%
James Casey 103 145 248 41.53%
Lex Hilliard 70 99 169 41.42%
Jorvorskie Lane 77 109 186 41.40%
The Giants’ “Hynocerous” leads the way in an indication of the Giants’ rushing attack being far more potent when he is on the field (he was also lined up at fullback for 15 of their touchdown runs). Behind him you get Will Tukuafu whose 46.67% puts the 39.27% of Bruce Miller (who finished 13th) to shame.
Of course it isn’t simply down to the lead back being on the field that teams pick up these yards, but even in the modern game that is more and more pass heavy, let’s not forget the important role these guys play.
Rounding Up The News
– In a move that leaves you worrying about him the person more than him the player, Rolando McClain retired from football at the age of 23. His legal troubles hastened his exit from Oakland, but it did seem like a second chance was coming with the Ravens before more run-ins with the law occurred. For what it was once worth, the former Top 10 pick held his own in the run game even if he never developed into the top talent every-down linebacker the Raiders had expected.
– The Jets are planning to use Quinton Coples with his hand off the dirt more in 2013. In his rookie season just 27 of his 516 snaps were spent in this fashion so it will be interesting to see how he adapts after a decent but far from spectacular rookie year.
– Staying in the AFC East, the Pats released Kyle Love. Love is one of these undrafted free agents who not only make the Patriots’ roster but actually contribute on defense, and to be honest it’s a mild surprise they wished him adieu. A more than useful early-downs player, you’ll get next to no pass rush from him, but he will make life difficult for guards trying to keep him away from running lanes. He’s played 1,457 snaps over the past three years and earned a +9.0 run defense grade in that time. There will be interest in him.
And that’s all the round up you’ll get from me. To all those missing their fix of The Hornsby, he’ll be back tomorrow to guide you through all the events that unfold today.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled