My Take on the Fullback Decision

Tony Hunt, a halfback his entire career until about two weeks ago, is now the Philadelphia Eagles starting fullback.

So far the reaction of the fanbase has largely been positive.  In my mind that is due to an emotional attachment to the player– a kid who played at Penn State.  A more analytical look at the decision requires a better look at the options the team had.

What were those options and what was the team thinking when it made its decision?Tony Hunt

The safe pick was either Jason Davis or Jed Collins.  Both of these guys are your typical fullbacks — trained to smash their helmets against a linebacker, clearing the road for a halfback.  Neither would offer much else in terms of helping the offense.

Hunt is clearly a different animal.  But let’s be clear about one thing:  Tony Hunt is terrible, terrible, terrible as a run blocker right now.   Why wouldn’t he be?  He’s literally never practiced it.

The Eagles know this.  Despite their many statements asserting his improvements and their willingness to be patient with his development as a blocker, they didn’t keep him on the active roster because they expected him to be great at it.

There two reasons they made this decision.

The first:  Reid, Heckert, and the rest looked at the production they got out of the fullbacks of the past (mediocre to bad), and realized it wasn’t really hurting Westbrook anyway.  They looked at Collins and Davis and said “these guys aren’t much better.”

The second:  Since they weren’t getting much of advantage from a traditional fullback, they decided having Hunt on the field as a “fullback” was a better option than what they would have gotten out of Jason Davis or Jed Collins.

Hunt is going to give Andy and Marty a real pass-catching threat from the fullback sets.  He’s going to give them a real ball-carrying threat.  The defense is going to have to account for him.

I like that Reid wasn’t afraid to get creative.  He did hedge his bet by keeping Collins on the practice squad, but barring an injury Tony Hunt is going to get a lot of time to prove himself an asset to this team.

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