We Want Fullbacks Back

I'll be honest, it bothered me when the Seahawks let Leonard Weaver walk.  He was maybe my favorite player at the time.  And before that, Mack Strong (best football name ever, ... well except Dick Butkus.. actually that's just the best name ever, football or anything) was maybe my favorite player.  I just like watching Fullbacks rumble and tumble and light people up.  Not only that, I think they're pretty important to the offense.  

So it bothered me even more when the Seahawks decided to basically just not have a Fullback.  I was never that high on Owen Schmitt... he was a decent player, never really showed the flashes of brilliance that Leonard Weaver did, but he was good enough.  I wasn't super bothered when they let him walk.  The Hawks' line were being coached by Alex Gibbs, and In Alex We Trusted.  Until he decided to retire right before the season started, thus hamstringing our entire offense.  We traded Rob Sims because of Alex Gibbs.  For a 5th round pick and a guy that now plays for the Omaha Nighthawks in the UFL.  Sims would be pretty nice right now at guard.  But that's neither here nor there.  The point being:  we basically let all of our Fullbacks go, and what was left, Quinton Ganther, didn't really pan out.  (Weaver went on to become a Pro-Bowler, Schmitt is now starting for Philly... great)

I'm not really sure how the new Darrell Bevel offense is going to run.  Everyone assumes it will be a West Coast Holmgren Style Offense, but I don't know if that will be the case.  Do they plan to utilize FBs more?  They seemed to run pretty well when they had a lead blocker going towards the end of the year.

To start the 2010 year, the Seahawks had little value put into a FB. They used Michael Robinson, a college QB and special teams ace there, but he's a bit undersized for that position at 6'1 223.  I like Mike Rob a lot, I think he brings a lot to the table, but I don't think he's got the frame to be a fullback for an entire season.  He's a special teams monster.  He's versatile.  He played QB in college so they can get creative if they need with him on O.  But I'd like to see the Hawks either draft or sign a FA Fullback.

Specifically, RFA FB Marcel Reece.

Reece came into the league as an Undrafted FA WR and caught on with the Raiders... only playing Fullback, not Receiver.  After a couple of years at that position, he is flourishing.  He made a huge impact on the Raiders' offense last year, helping spring Darren McFadden and Michael Bush to big runs and doing his part in making them the 2nd best rushing team in the NFL. During that campaign, he got high praise from then Raiders' coach Tom Cable:
I think there is a skill set there that every week we try to grow it and do something with it, and he's responded everything we've asked him to do. The thing that I see him getting better at is truly playing the fullback position in the backfield. He's starting to strike people and finishing more blocks. He's doing a fine job.
Also from Cable:
The thing that I am most pleased about is he continues to improve as a blocker, and with the way the running game is coming around, that's a significant sign that he's really starting to get it. In terms of him catching it and running it and all that, that's extra. It's frosting.
Reece is 6'3 and 240 lbs. He played receiver in college at UW, so he's got really solid hands.  I would love to see him in a Seahawks uniform.  And not in a Raiders' uniform, tearing the Hawks a new one, like he did in Week 8.  I took a look at the tape:

(9:00 2nd Q) K.Barnes reported in as eligible. J.Campbell pass short left to M.Reece for 30 yards, TOUCHDOWN. (4th and 1)
4th and 1, on the Raiders' 30 Yrd Line. The Raiders start out in a I-Formation, with 2 TE, 1 WR to the right, and Reece at FB, Bush at RB. Reece motions L and runs out to the shortside left wing, off the line. He runs a 5 yard slant, which both Milloy and Heater jump all over, but miraculously the ball gets through, Milloy and Heater tackle each other, and Reece runs straight up the field for a 30 yard TD.

(6:33 3rd Q) J.Campbell pass short left to M.Reece to SEA 30 for 51 yards (M.Trufant). (2nd and 11)
Raiders lined up in an Offset I-Formation, with Reece as the FB. Reece motions left and the ball is snapped. Campbell play action fakes the handoff to McFadden; Reece blocks the end before releasing for a screen pass. Campbell hits him, Reece turns it upfield and rumbles for 51 yards, breaking a tackle or two along the way.

(3:25 4th Q) M.Reece up the middle to SEA 4 for 31 yards (M.Trufant). (1st and 10).
I-formation again, Reece at FB. The play is a dive; Reece rumbles forward at surprising speed for 31 yards.

The reason I break down these plays is because I just like to picture the Seahawks having this weapon in their backfield. How many times have we seen Justin Forsett motion out to the wing and try and play receiver with Hass in the empty backfield? He does a decent job, but he's a running back through and through, he makes his pay by being shifty and quick, making people miss, and finding the right holes to run through.

Forsett isn't going to run through many tacklers. He's not going to win many one-on-one matchups going for the ball, and he's definitely not going to win any jump balls. He's not as sure handed as I'd like. He's dangerous on swing passes mostly ... but not on slants, posts, or corner routes.  Reece is a dangerous receiver, period. He's a WR by trade, he just happens to play FB at this level. He is big; 6'3 240.  He's fast; ran a 4.4 40 (low) at the combine. He can go up and get balls from defenders (36" vertical). He's extremely hard to tackle. The ability for their FB/RB to motion out and play receiver on one play, the the next play run a dive for 31 yards, then the next play lead block for Marshawn Lynch and break him loose for a big gain, is not something that the Seahawks have in their repertoire. Michael Robinson is not a great receiver out of the backfield, nor is Marshawn Lynch. They both can get the job done on swing passes and screens, but Reece brings a unique skillset to the table.

A skillset that I haven't really seen since the Hawks had a guy named Leonard Weaver playing FB.

Is he likely to leave Oakland?  I believe he's a restricted free-agent, so we'd have to pay him a bit, but the way that Oakland is paying their FA's right now ($71 million in the last week), they may not try to hold on to him too hard.  They also still have to pay their FA RB Michael Bush as well.

Reece just may want to follow one of the coaches, Tom Cable, that took a chance and signed him after he went undrafted, worked with him, and developed him into such a good player.  We'll see.

Oh, and here's some more UW nostalgia: Reece catching a ball from that one guy, Jake Locker.

Post Script:  Can we PLEASE get Calabro to call some Hawks' games?  I even would settle for some more Huard, I like his analysis.  710ESPN TEAM GO!

1 comment:

  1. Did you see that pass from Jake? I was never a fan of Jake's. I am from Ferndale. I know he throws cement trucks. But he wins with pure athleticism. He is the guy you want in. I didnt realize that until I started comparing him to Big Ben. I hate that guy by the way. He is not a good QB, if you look at his QB Skill set. But he will fight you till the end and smash your face until you give up a TD in the fourth quarter.