I'll state my bias upfront that I like the traditional 'hand in the mud, blood on the jersey' blocking fullback as opposed to the new trend of 'hybrid' fullbacks. I like my fullbacks to look like a fire hydrant and move like one too. I like them to have crooked noses from one too many blows to the face mask and a neck that's wider than it is tall. Needless to say I'm hoping that Dan Kreider wins the fullback job over Tim Castille.
Now that's not to say that I'm really against Castille because I do think his blocking has greatly improved since coming on board a couple of years ago but if the team keeps just one fullback, I hope it's Kreider. I know that Castille has his fans here at ROTB and I know that there are plenty of Kreider fans as well, but here's my case for Kreider over Castille:
- First and foremost regardless of any progress that Castille has made as a run blocker, Kreider is undoubtedly the guy that you want lead blocking when you have to convert a third and one. He is the better 'blocking fullback' and I don't think there is any debate on that subject.
- Second, a big part of Castille's advantage over Kreider is that he's a better pass catcher out of the backfield and that's not really debatable either. My counter on that argument though would be, with all of the pass catching options on this team, why would you want Castille to have the ball in his hands? Is he a bigger threat than any of the receivers? Of course not. How about any of the running backs? Jason Wright is probably the only debatable one but I'm guessing that most would still rather see Wright with the ball. What about the tight ends? I'd think that maybe Becht or Pope or Spach would be similar to Castille but at least from their position they're poised to get further down field than Castille would coming out of the backfield. So basically what I'm saying is that while Castille is better out of the backfield than Kreider would be, he's not near the threat of any other skill position player on the team and with so many other weapons, why not have one guy who can pulverize an opponent in the running game.
- Ok, I'll admit that I'm going out on a ledge with this point but I wanted three so here goes. So far this preseason we've seen the 'two tight end' set quite a bit and quite a few times one of the tight ends has motioned into the backfield and become the lead blocker. If they continue this trend wouldn't the second tight end in this situation basically become the 'hybrid' fullback? I know I've seen Ben Patrick do it several times and he's looked decent as a lead blocker but if the Cardinals did some kind of play action pass out of that formation, I'd much rather have Patrick running out into the flat than Castille.
Also a couple of points on Kreider that I've seen over the past couple of weeks. I've seen more than once someone mention that he's injury prone, but that's pretty misleading. He played in 103 consecutive regular season games before tearing his ACL in the Steelers/Dolphins Mud Bowl on MNF in 2007 and missed the final six games of the season. The Rams picked him up the following season but cut him after eleven games, but not because he was hurt. Some speculated that he wasn't fully healed from the knee injury but the fact remains that he wasn't cut because he was injured. The last point centers around what Kreider means to a team's running game. In the six seasons that he was the Steelers primary fullback, they finished in the top 10 in rushing in five of the six seasons and in the top five in three of those six seasons. In the season immediately after they released him, they fell to 23rd in the league after ranking 3rd the season before. Oh and the 'hybrid' fullback (Carey Davis) that the Steelers dumped Krieder for touched the ball 17 times for a grand total of 62 yards (3.6 avg) last year.
I'm in no way saying that Krieder will make the Cardinals a top ten or five rushing offense in the NFL because we're simply not built to operate that way nor is that the offensive game plan of this team, but he can help us be more successful when we do run the ball. This team has plenty of passing weapons without adding Castille to the mix. I implore you Cardinals coaching staff, keep Dan Kreider. Let him put his hand in the dirt and crack the skulls of opposing linebackers.