Fullback back is big deal for Bills

By Anthony Bialy  |   Monday, March 23, 2009  |  Comments( 60 )

Buffalo Bills
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The Buffalo Bills may continue to use a fullback next season. If nothing else, they’ll have one: Midseason fill-in Corey McIntyre is now a full-season regular after having signed on for two more years. He was helpful last season at opening spaces some underwhelming offensive linemen didn’t fully clear; hopefully, he’ll allow this team to establish a ground attack starting Week 1. Failing that, he can pass protect in the name of funneling everything to the team’s new toy, although that doesn’t sound like as much fun.

The West Virginia product isn’t being retained for his personal gains; after all, he totaled zero carries last season. Throw in his two catches for minus-1 yard, and he literally moved the team backward, at least directly. He’s appeared in 44 NFL games and still hasn’t rushed once, but that just means he’s a pure full-time impediment to tacklers: It’s his task to spring other backfield residents for gains. McIntyre is effective when selfless.

Counting a practice team stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo is his fifth NFL home. That’s not particularly odd by fullback standards; only perhaps kickers get passed around more easily. Plus, he’s finally wanted and needed where he is. This is a fortuitous union between the team and him, as the Bills need the straightforward protection offered by a fullback more than they need to have, say, multiple tight ends present in formations.

Besides, two-tight end sets would be problematic considering this particular roster: The Bills only currently own two players in the positional category who have played an NFL game. And nobody should be excited about seeing the particular players simultaneously on the field: Dereks Schouman and Fine equal about one mediocre tight end.

Even if and (it better be) when management upgrades the position, this offense is still better off with a conventional alignment that uses straightforward blocking. Rushers will prosper by rushing behind someone who can knock aside defenders obstructing the lane.

It could be worse, of course, as the Bills could be still pretending that tight ends and fullbacks are virtually the same thing, as they foolishly did through 2007. The half-baked halfback experiment showed that some hybrids only offer multiple disadvantages. The players involved did little whether blocking or actually touching the football.

But that feeble approach is thankfully historical, and now McIntyre gets a full training camp to adjust to Bills life instead of being handed a playbook on a midseason Tuesday. He joined the team last Sept. 30; it’s tough to become instantly accustomed to a new team, even if heading through a hole created by the line is an easier technique than actually creating those holes. No matter what, working with this team for an entire offseason will help him learn to help Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson break through.

McIntyre would be especially helpful to Jackson if the latter is temporarily promoted to starter for one, two or four games; that scenario will occur if and when the NFL decides Lynch needs to be punished for maliciously, nefariously having a gun in a car’s trunk. Jackson can feel less stressed about bearing the load thanks to knowing he won’t be alone back there.

Best, this team has options despite Terrell Owens’ presence. Having a true fullback means the Bills can grind it out if they’d like, even if it irritates their touchy new wideout. The ability to lean on power running if they’d like is a welcome alternative even if it’s not frequently chosen.
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