In search of fullbacks

It used to be the way people threw the word “spread” around, applying it conceptually to things that maybe weren’t appropriate, drove me a little crazy.  Now I wonder if we’re hitting a time when the same thing goes for “pro-style”.

What does “pro-style” mean these days? Check out these numbers.

Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz recently tweeted some formation numbers. The use of 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE) increased to 60.4 percent of all plays in the NFL this season, and it was the most common personnel grouping for all 32 teams.

Schatz added that the second-most common packages for any team included the Jets 10 personnel (33 percent), the Colts 12 personnel (31 percent) and the Eagles and Panthers 12 personnel (27 percent).

If you wanted any more proof the fullback is dead, there you go. The next time you hear college coaches talking about styles that translate to the NFL, keep these numbers in mind.

If all “pro-style” means these days is deploying a fullback, then I guess that makes sense.  Since it doesn’t…


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

14 responses to “In search of fullbacks

  1. sniffer

    I didn’t think your post was that interesting so I’m adding this from the link… (still clicking the adds, though)

    From the coach up in Knoxville…

    We had all those injuries, and then I go home and our dog is limping, and our dog tore her knee up. Then I tear my knee up on the practice field,” Jones said on the SEC Network’s Tennessee Summer Tour. “Right before the Vol Walk, I can’t walk or run through the T and had to take a shot before the game. This is very fitting for this past year.”

    Is anything ever his fault?


  2. Derek

    Spread vs. pro isn’t simply about formation. The distinction is more about the difference between finesse and power. It’s vertical vs. lateral. Are you attacking north and south or are you using the width of the field trying to make defenders make plays in space? Does the qb run plays designed for him to keep it so a FS has to account for him in the run game? Do your recievers adjust thier routes based on coverage or are the routes predetermined?

    There’s a lot of bleed over from one to the other but the ultimate question is whether your identity is about punching the other team in the mouth or is it about running them ragged?

    The advantage of pro-style is that it permits a team to play to its defense and hold a lead. The advantage of spread is with the right qb it’s nearly impossible to defend.

    The advantage of prostyle is that with the right players in place you can play with an inadequate qb vs. most opponents. The disadvantage of spread is that with a mediocre qb, you have little chance to be any better than your qb.


  3. Bright Idea

    Even in a pro style a big thick fullback accomplishes little except to bring another defensive body or two into the box. Lots more running lanes versus nickel coverage when you use three receivers regardless of your style.


    • Greg

      A fullback is basically an extra blocker these days. An offensive guard who will occasionally become a running back or receiver….or another person that the DL and backers have to account for (as keys). Personally, I like them…..we have had success in the past with them.


      • ugafidelis

        I’m with you. It’s hard to beat having a badass Fullback in the backfield.


        • Greg

          Yeah, thought it worked well with some of the FB we had in the past. I would love to see us throw in a veer formation a time or two with our current offense. Other teams are not use to seeing it…it should work well with the RB we have imo.


      • Derek

        The issue is that because no HS’s use them anymore what are the chances your FB is going to be a better player than the player the defense keeps in to account for him? Not good.

        You have a better chance of a mismatch with a TE vs. either a smaller DB or a slower LB.

        It would be interesting to see what two TB’s in the game could create. Kiffin opened one game at Alabama by splitting a TB out knowing a LB would follow based on the personnel the defense had and hit on a big play.

        I’m a big fan of FB’s and smash mouth football, but unless you’re salting a big lead, along with the clock, and trying to wear a tired defense down you’re not in the best position to take advantage of the defense with a FB in there any longer.

        Moreover, when you’re facing the best, most physical defenses on your schedule the FB is really neutralized. You might as well get good at the things that will work in those big games rather than just pounding lesser schools with a FB because you can.


        • Good post, Derek. The only slight difference I would have with you is if you want to toss the ball to the edge. You almost have to have a tight end to turn the edge guy with a FB / H-back leading to take on the LB whose responsibility is to fill the gap. Otherwise, you have to use a wide receiver to crack the edge guy with a lead blocker still needed to take on the first defender at the point of attack.


          • Otto

            Lutzenkirchen at Auburn was a TE/FB who was valuable to his team’s offense as a down field threat.

            Agreed with Derek that finding a prototypical prostyle / I formation FB is getting harder to find as the High School do not use them. I also agree that love that UGA has used FBs. They can be used to get a tough yard if the Ds are keying on the tail back, and can also be a threat to sneak out for the occasional pass. UGA has done both. Bama was more lone back formations, it will be interesting to see how UGA evolves.


  4. 69Dawg

    I wonder if the use of the so called HBack has increased, it seems to have for us. No doubt that there is less use of true fullbacks but then again Kirby has already voiced his opinion about fullbacks. We are using the Pro sets. In the G-day game UGA used 10, 11 and 12 personnel groups the most. 11 was the most used in the first half. By the way if 12 personnel was used the QB was under center almost 98% of the time. Chaney needs to show a little let position tendency and yes I know it was just the spring game.


  5. I would love to see more pistol. I thought our offense was deadly in 2012-13 with the pistol with a tight end and 3 wide. You put 6 in the box and pick them apart in the passing game. You put five in the box and the power running game kills you.


  6. MGW

    I’d love to see an offense that utilizes a fullback as a runner/receiver more than the 10 times or so per season that seems standard. More than just enough to make the D look, but enough to really make them take him seriously and actually do some damage.