After the loss in Kansas City on Sunday, there has been a lot of criticism of Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. It was evident throughout the game that the Eagles lacked confidence in their rushing attack. Carson Wentz threw the ball 46 times. Eagles running backs, led by 34 year-old Darren Sproles, had just 13 carries combined. Through two games of the season it is becoming clear that the Eagles have a problem running the football.
Countless fans and analysts have debated ideas of a possible solution: changes to the offensive line, better play calling, etc. In looking around the league, there are many examples of teams that run the ball effectively and thus have a more successful, balanced offense. One common theme among these teams is that they all have one thing: a fullback.
Although it seems like an old school position that is rapidly declining in today’s NFL, the fullback is still a very effective and vital piece to any rushing attack. Look at some of the best rushing teams over the past few seasons: Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Atlanta. All teams that run the ball at will. Each has a fullback that anchors their running game.
A fullback is supposed to be the best blocker on the field. Smart teams invest in fullbacks. The 49ers signed Kyle Juszczyk to a 4-year, $21 million dollar deal this offseason. Through two weeks their running back Carlos Hyde is 4th in the league in rushing. His team is quarterbacked by Brian Hoyer—a career backup.
Deploying a fullback would give the Eagles a lead blocker to make way for their running backs. It would take pressure off of the offensive line, allowing the Eagles to shift from singleback formations to the power-running I-formation. Having an improved running game would keep defenses honest, opening up the passing game for Carson Wentz and his new weapons.
An investment in a fullback is an investment in a balanced, productive offense. It would be a wise investment for Doug Pederson and the Eagles. It would help their offensive line, it would help their running backs, and most importantly it would help their young franchise quarterback.