Bears Coaching Staff Sees FB Role Differently Than Tice..........
Bears coaches eye fullback's role
By Brad Biggs Tribune reporter 9:08 a.m. CST, February 15, 2013
It is no secret the Chicago Bears are in need of a pass-catching tight end and they could probably use a traditional fullback as they revamp the offense.
When head coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer last worked together with the Raiders, combining forces on a team that reached Super Bowl XXXVII, Oakland had a talented blocking back in Jon Ritchie.
Now, Kromer comes from the the Saints where he was the offensive line coach the past four seasons and the running backs coach in 2008. New Orleans used multiple fullbacks in that period, most recently Jed Collins, who spent a month on the Bears’ practice squad back in 2008.
The Bears were without a pure fullback this past season, a position coordinator Mike Tice felt was better filled by a more versatile performer. Rookie Evan Rodriguez, a fourth-round draft pick from Temple, lined up at tight end for nearly all of training camp before having his jersey number changed to 48 for a move to the backfield. He’s not ideal as a fullback and the belief is Trestman’s staff will move him back to tight end.
“I would prefer to have both, a traditional fullback and a tight end that moves around,” Kromer said. “If you have both then you really have what you are looking for if you have a fullback and an F tight end that can move around and a fullback at times and be a tight end, not a point of attack tight end.”
The Bears had a fullback on the roster in 2011 when they picked up Tyler Clutts but he was traded to the Texans at final roster cutdowns back in September to acquire cornerback Sherrick McManis, a core special teams player.
Running backs coach Skip Peete, who was also a member of that Raiders coaching team with Trestman and Kromer, said the Bears staff is still working through the playbook and hasn’t made decisions on specific roster parts.
“That’s what we’re trying to determine in putting together the playbook,” Peete said. “You go through the offense and you say, (Trestman) has been in Canada for a while and he’s had some different concepts that even though it is there, they will work here. It’s a combination of two-back, one-back, and I think that is something you have to look at.
“This day and age you have to have a combination of both. At some point in time, you’re going to have to utilize that. You formulate your playbook and even if you’re a team that doesn’t have that (pure fullback), say you are a team that doesn’t have it, you still have to get into some form of (two back) whether it is a lineman or whoever it is. Right now, we haven’t actually got into the formations and personnel. We’ve got what we call them and how we’re going to call them. Now, you’ve got to plug in the schemes and stuff to go along with that.”
Finding a good traditional fullback that doesn’t come with a lot of wear and tear isn’t easy. Fullbacks can have short shelf lives because of the wear and tear associated with being a lead blocker. The proliferation of spread offenses in the college ranks has made the position obsolete in many places. Some NFL teams have moved away from using a fullback.
“You gotta find a linebacker, you gotta find a defensive end,” Kromer said. “They don’t play them anymore. You can’t find them. You can’t even look for one in college. You just have to try to find somebody that fits the body type.”
That’s what Clutts was, a converted college defensive end. A year later, there is a good chance the Bears will seek a replacement for him. If they do, that kind of move could lead the team to keep three tight ends on the final roster instead of four.