For all the additions and subtractions made to the Cleveland Browns this offseason, one thing has remained the same: Owen Marecic.
Yup, he’s still on the team and he still the team’s only fullback.
I’ll allow a few moments for you to remove your palm from your face.
On June 10, the Baltimore Ravens released fullback Vonta Leach. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Leach was the top-ranked fullback in the NFL last season and the NFL’s best lead blocker for the second consecutive season.
No coincidence, Ray Rice has rushed for 2,507 yards and 21 touchdowns on 548 carries the last two seasons.
There was a fleeting hope that Leach, 31, would join the Browns, but it came crashing down about 24 hours later in a report by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“The Browns have no interest in signing (Leach),” the report said.
Two things. One, the Browns don’t seem too concerned with upgrading the fullback position. Two, the Browns seem OK with the performance of Marecic.
I’ll allow a few moments for your palm to reacquaint with your face.
Yes, the common idea nowadays is the fullback is an antique relic in the NFL. The game has passed that position by.
Or has it?
Adrian Peterson rushed for a league-high 2,097 yards last season followed by Alfred Morris (1,613) and Marshawn Lynch (1,590). All three leading rushers had fullbacks leading the way by create massive holes.
In Minnesota, Jerome Felton was a big reason Peterson threatened the single-season rushing record. Last March, the Vikings locked up Felton with a new three-year deal.
“I make life a little easier on him,” Felton told Fox Sports North last December. “Definitely a lot of pride in that.”
In Washington, Darrell Young opened holes for the rookie Morris, who rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns including 87 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries in a 38-21 win over the Browns on Dec. 16, 2012.
Last March, the Redskins signed Young to a three-year extension.
In Seattle, Michael Robinson was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team after Lynch set a career high in rushing yards.
One is an exception.
Three, four with Leach, is a pattern.
In Cleveland, the Browns have a talented running back who has the potential to put up numbers similar to Peterson, Morris, Lynch and Rice.
Anyone who watched the Browns last season noticed the lack of holes rookie Trent Richardson had to run through. Still, he managed 950 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.
The last time the Browns had a 1,000-yard rusher, Jamal Lewis, Cleveland’s backfield also featured one of the league’s best fullbacks in Lawrence Vickers.
Meanwhile, since Marecic arrived in Cleveland in 2011, he’s been a major disappointment from his inability to create holes for the Browns’ backs to his dropped passes.
Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner is no stranger to the importance of a great fullback. In 2007, Turner’s first year as San Diego Chargers head coach, Lorenzo Neal led LaDainian Tomlinson to 1,474 yards rushing.
The previous season, Neal ushered Tomlinson to his career-best 1,815 yards rushing.
For a couple years, everyone clamored for the Browns to upgrade the wide receiving corps even without a top-notch quarterback. Now, the Browns have a top-notch running back and the need for an elite fullback is greater than ever.
If the Browns want to get the full potential out of Richardson, the time is now for the team to hire a capable NFL fullback.