Even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are currently looking for a running back to step up and be the teams third down back, a spot vacated by Carnell Williams, who’s close to signing a deal with the St. Louis Rams. Don’t look for the team to carry two true fullbacks with the versatility of both Earnest Graham and Kregg Lumpkin.
For further proof of why the Bucs and other teams are shying away from caring two fullbacks on their rosters one only needs to look at Football Outsiders Innovative Stats. In there most recently ramblings, Danny Tuccito looks at formation analysis; The number of RBs.
Overall, 47.2 percent of runs were out of formations with one running back, continuing an upward trend since our game charting project began (45.8 percent in 2009, 43.7 percent in 2008, and 44.0 percent in 2007). Interestingly enough, the trend seems to be being driven by one team, the Colts. After pushing the 90-percent boundary in 2007 and 2008, an even-more-outlying 94.4 percent of Indianapolis’ runs over the past two seasons came out of a one-back set. To put that in perspective, the second-most-frequent one-back run offense since 2009 is New England at 76.8 percent.
Seven of the 12 offenses with an above-average run DVOA in one-back sets made the playoffs, which is about double what you’d expect from random chance. Of the five that didn’t make the playoffs, the Bucs and Giants both won 10 games. This isn’t just a one-year fluke either: Each of the past four seasons, playoff teams have been a minimum of 7.1 DVOA percentage points better than nonplayoff teams on runs from a one-back formation.
Using DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) the Bucs ranked 5th in the league with a 12.5, when they rushed with just one back. When the team decided to go with a two back set, they dropped to 28th in the league and had a DVOA of -21.5.
Speaking of different formations, LeGarrette Blount as a rookie rushed 137 times for 660 yards out of a two back set for an average 4.81 per carry. Out of one back set, Blount managed 347 yards on 64 carries for an average of 5.42.
Blount carried the football 68% of the time out of a two back set and 32% of the time out of a one back set.