To me, pure talent is king…everything else is secondary.
My appreciation for talent has led me to some unpopular opinions in my time as a Boston sports fan. Most people love the gritty, tough dirtdogs. Fans loved Trot Nixon…give me JD Drew every day of the week. Was Nixon fun to watch? Sure. But Drew was just much better at everything baseball related.
This football season, I’ve made my feelings known on various text chains about one particular “dirtdog” Patriot. I’ve called him “replaceable” and a “skinny guard”. I’ve said he’s not athletic, and that any 5th round pick from any college that actually uses a fullback could replace him. I’m talking of course about #44 James…wait is it #46…no, #48…nope, hold it, definitely #46, James Develin.
Are these things exaggerations? Sure. But my point basically is, Fullback is an almost obsolete position. Develin is at his best when cast as an old-fashioned I backfield, straight ahead, take on the Mike linebacker, guy. He’s good at that, but is that role really necessary in today’s NFL…is my argument.
Well, a noted football fan, and avid HTTA reader, “Kuch” has really challenged me on this. So, I’ve done some digging, and I’m here to lay it all on the table. Because, as obnoxious as I am when arguing about this shit, my strong suit (if I actually have one, many would argue I don’t) is I’ll own up to it, take the heat, and admit I’m wrong. So let’s get to it.
Is the Fullback dead?
Well, across the league, yeah. But here’s the thing. Back in 2010, everyone was going 5 wides…spread ’em out. And, coming off a difficult 2009, where the Pats didn’t have enough weapons, what did Bill do??? Spent 2 of the top 113 picks in the draft on tight ends. Tight ends?! Nobody wanted TE’s…especially TWO of them.
And what happened??? Oh, just an MVP Season for Brady, return of a dominant offense, a trip to the Superbowl a year later, and basically a rebirth/ Phase 2 of arguably the greatest Dynasty in the history of Sport.
Develin’s Role in the Offense?
OK, Bill may have a sense of position scarcity and market inefficiencies, but does he really use Develin to his advantage?
Well, according to Pro Football Reference, Develin played 398 offensive snaps 35.57% of the teams’ snaps. Both career highs, and second most, to James White, of any of the Patriots’ backfield. That all surprised me.
He also had 158 snaps on Special Teams- the most among the teams’ offensive skill players.
While he’s in there, he’s a great run blocker…no doubt. But he also had 3 1st down catches this season, and converted 4 goal line runs for TDs. That second part is of note for a team that was basically terrible on goal line runs.
I just saw this on twitter yesterday:
My go-to weight lifting consultant, J Patrick Cunnion, while he himself is a biceps specialist, has assured me these are both pretty god damn legit.
OK, I admit it. I’ve way undersold James Develin. KUCH IS RIGHT. He’s a way bigger part of the team than I give him credit for. He’s a key-ish piece in the offense, and could play a key role on Sunday.
I defer to Bill a lot, and the fact that he re-signed this guy and gave him 3.8M over two years (for a FULLBACK?!), and then used him more, should be a sign to me that maybe I’m on the wrong side of this one.
So, you dirtdog fans have won this battle. Savor the flavor, because it sure as hell won’t happen again.
Oh by the way…Develin, +40,000 to win SB MVP.