The Jacksonville Jaguars are in nearly full nostalgia mode and bringing back the fullback position would cement it.
When Gus Bradley and general manager Dave Caldwell decided to move on from the fullback position, it brought the end to an era for the Jacksonville Jaguars. That era was the Greg Jones era, the last true fullback to wear the black and teal and clear holes for Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor.
From 2004 to 2012, Jones was the definition of a dominant fullback. He never got into the Pro Bowl, but his work clearing holes and occasionally carrying set a standard that was near and dear to the Jaguars and their fans. Jones, who played one last season with the Houston Texans before retiring, is fondly remembered for the hard work and dedication he put toward a much-overlooked position.
While Jones wasn’t the last fullback on a Jags roster (Will Ta’ufo’ou was with the team in 2013 and 2014), he was the last defining player at the position. When the Jags moved on from the position, the team suffered. Per Michael DiRocco and ESPN Stats & Info:
"the Jaguars ran the ball 73 times on third-and-2 or third-and-1 and converted just 34 first downs, and that 46.6-percent conversion rate was by far the worst in the league. The next closest team was Denver at 59.2 percent."
The Jags simply didn’t have the right personnel to run the ball in short yardage. The fullback was needed but overlooked. In that article, DiRocco mentions that fans shouldn’t be surprised to see the fullback return.
I’ll go one further. Fans should be excited to see the fullback return.
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It isn’t just about nostalgia and a longing for the next underrated dominance of a fullback like Greg Jones. It’s also about efficiency. The offense simply hasn’t functioned well without a fullback in the lineup and having a strong presence at the position can almost single-handedly upgrade the running game. Tyson Alualu is a surprisingly versatile defensive lineman, but he is not the same as a dedicated fullback.
It’s time to return to the days of having a larger, bruising back ready to open up holes for whoever is the bellcow runner. It’s time to bring back a position that is so often overlooked that teams don’t deem it necessary to have on the roster.
Tom Coughlin knows running and he knows that the right pieces must be in place for a team to be able to gain yards in even the toughest situations on the ground. Having a fullback on the roster lets a team do that.
Bring on the fullback!