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Green Zone League Articles

NFC East -- Position Analysis: Halfbacks and Fullbacks
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to gzl-football.com






This is the next article in a series of articles, in which I break down each team in the NFC East, position by position. Up next, the Halfbacks and Fullbacks.

DALLAS COWBOYS

Felix Jones, Chris Ivory, Lucious Dufree, Charles Clay

Felix Jones is one of the more gifted halfbacks, at least on paper, in the entire GZL. Only five backs on the league have his unique set of skills which include 96 SPD, 93 AGI and 96 ACC. Yet throughout his up and down career, Jones seems to have underperformed or not lived up to expectations. Though heís averaged a respectable 1,124 yards a season, Jones rarely dominates a game and had only two 100 yard rushing games last season. Still, the Cowboys have never been a run first team so perhaps he is to be excused to some degree. Backup Chris Ivory, a former 1,000 rusher with the Saints, is the thunder to Jonesí lighting, but hasnít done much since coming to Dallas three seasons ago, totaling a mere 400 yards and a meager 3.5 average. Third-stringer Lucious Dufree, a 4th round pick last year is undersized and inexperienced, with only four carries in his career, though a shiny 7.3 ypc, thanks to a 20 yard gain.

Fullback Charles Clay enters his fifth year and the former third-rounder has met the teamís expectations. Clay has given up only 1 sack in his career. The Tulsa alum had 55 catches in his first two seasons, but managed only 20 in the past two, despite excellent hands.

Grade: B+


NEW YORK GIANTS

Jonathan Stewart, John Clay, Anthony Allen, Owen Marcic

Jonathan Stewart enters 2015 firmly entrenched as the Giants running back, after stints in Carolina and Detroit. After three consecutive 1,400 yard seasons, Stewart is quietly 10th on the all-time rushing list and 8th in career touchdowns. Though not very agile or quick, Stewart is a rare combination of speed (90) and strength (77) that only nine HBs in the league can boast, none of whom can match his 245-lb frame. Stewart enters his eighth year as one of the best backs in the league, but with likely only so much more tread on the tire. His only other negative? Oddly, ball security. Only six more HBs have more career fumbles. The Giants like their HBs to be big boys, as evidenced by backup John Clay. Clay is slow (83 SPD) but one of the strongest ball carriers in the league. Regardless of his attributes on paper, heís productive, averaging over 4.5 ypc and nearly 700 yards a season. Anthony Allen is third-string and perhaps rightfully so with a dreadful 57 BTK. Otherwise, Allen looks like a sleeper with 90 SPD, 96 ACC and a big 6í1Ē, 228 frame.

Owen Marcic is one of the best FBs in the game. Marcic is the best run blocking fullback and few match his speed. Last year the Stanford grad averaged a healthy 7.3 ypc and did not allow a sack.

Grade: A

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Ray Rice, LenDale White, Andre Ellington

Rumors around the league suggest Ray Rice is on the block. The Eagles finished 26th in rushing despite Riceís 1,247 yards rushing. However, during Riceís two years in Philly heís averaged a meager 3.7 ypc. Rice can still be a homerun hitter, as evidenced by his 222 yard and 179 yard performances last year against the Packers and Rams. However, outside of those games, Riceís longest gain on the season was 19 yards. Further, if you take away those two contests, Rice averaged a stunningly low 3.2 ypc. Rice has above-average speed (91) and great strength (76) and is one of the more nimble backs in the game, so much of the blame may be on his offensive line. Rice also lead the league in fumbles last year. LenDale White appears to be the second-stringer, though it would seem his more productive days are behind him. Despite his amazing strength (82), White is incredibly slow (72 SPD). Four years removed from an 8 TD 4.9 ypc season with the Steelers, last year White produced only 42 yards on 21 carries, including a fumble. Former 5th rounder Andre Ellington lacks ideal size but has good speed (93). Ellington has more tackles (1) than carries (0).

The Eagles currently do not have a FB on their roster.

Grade: B-

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, Deji Karim

Like the Giants and the Eagles, the Redskinsí feature a running back that is not homegrown. In his first season in Washington, Chris Johnson invigorated the Redskin running game, notching 1,436 yards and a 5.0 ypc, along with 10 TDs. Johnson and Felix Jones have very similar skills, but Johnson has has put his exceptional skills to good use, and currently sits as the 5th most productive RB in league history. Adding to his prowess in the run game, Johnson has great hands and has caught 62 passes with an 11.4 ypc over the past 5 seasons. Johnsonís window of greatness may be closing however, as he enters his 9th campaign. Also, Johnson had six fumbles last season, fourth most overall. Backing up Johnson is a near physical carbon copy in Reggie Bush. Bush is 30 now and has lost a step or two, but still has decent speed (90). With his fourth team in six seasons, Bush has never recaptured the magic of his 1,471 yard, 13 TD year in New Orleans, but a 4.5 ypc career average, heís about as complete of a backup as youíll find. Deji Karim has decent sills but has yet to carry the ball more than 24 times in a season, or break four yards per carry.

FB Ryan Taylor is a former 7th rounder in his fourth year. He has been steady but unspectacular as a runner and receiver, but as a blocker heís been suspect. Last season he gave up 5 sacks, which is the worst in league history for a FB.

Grade: A-
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