Programming note: I'll have something up, likely over the weekend, about the official Gregg Williams hiring announcement and Thursday's press conference formally introducing the 2013 coaching staff.
Next up on our trip around the Tennessee Titans as we head into the 2013 offseason is a look at the fullback position.
As I expected in the preseason look at the position, Quinn Johnson was the Titans' fullback in 2012 and looked, well, a lot like how Quinn Johnson had looked in the past. He blocked guys, sometimes even reasonably well, though too often for my taste not so. He handled the ball not very often, running the ball thrice for 5 yards and catching it 5 times for 40 yards. He played less than the man he replaced, Ahmard Hall used to. As noted in the snap report, Johnson played 25% of the time, approximately all of them as a regular or offset fullback with Chris Johnson. That's down from the 40% of the time the Titans in the Jeff Fisher days used a two-back set. QJ is not under contract for 2013, so what might the Titans do here?
First, it seems very likely the Titans will have a fullback-type player on the roster in 2013. Dowell Loggains spent time under Mike Heimerdinger, who was the offensive coordinator when Hall was playing close to 40% of the snaps. QJ played 25% of the time under Chris Palmer and 25% of the time under Loggains. If Loggains didn't believe in having a fullback, he could have run plays without one on the field. The fullback will have to play special teams and do other things, because that's what fullbacks pretty much have to do in the modern NFL, but it seems pretty likely there will be one.
Who will that fullback be, though? WIll the Titans bring back Johnson, another candidate from the roster, or somebody else?
If it's not Johnson, the only other obvious internal candidate is Collin Mooney. The former Army back concluded his military service last offseason and spent most of the season on the practice squad before getting 10 snaps on offense in the final game.
Funny thing, though-Mooney was listed on the practice squad as a fullback, but his work that season finale came not as a fullback but as a tailback carrying the football. It's easy to overread such things, but the official site currently lists him as a RB and not as a FB like QJ or as an RB/FB. The official site can be a non-reliable source to things at some times, but it comports with how the Titans used him. Do the Titans still see him as a fullback, or is he instead a candidate to be a between the tackles runner as a complement to Chris Johnson? Or is it both? I don't know, but the possibility intrigues me.
If it's not Johnson and Mooney is no longer a fullback, then the Titans' fullback for 2013 is almost certainly coming to the team this offseason (Darren Evans has okay size, but I don't think he's a fullback). That means either a late round draft pick or, more likely, an undrafted free agent and/or veteran addition. Both Hall and his predecessor Troy Fleming were undrafted free agents who made good, so it's certainly possible to find them there.
More likely, though, I'm overreading things and Collin Mooney will be the Titans' fullback in 2013 unless the Titans choose to retain QJ for some reason I simply cannot fathom. If they don't retain QJ, I expect them to add a player, possibly a cheap veteran, possibly a young player, if only for another body. Whooever may be the Titans' fullback in 2013, he'll very likely play some but not that much, play special teams, and handle the ball a couple times a game at most. Go fullback!