As Kansas City Chiefs fans wait out this off season they pass the time by discussing what the team needs are and how they can best improve the team through the draft and free agency. Most Chiefs fans agree on the top areas of need. The top positions listed are usually NT, WR, pass rusher, OL, etc. However, today this Armchair Addict is here to sell you on the idea that the best FA pick up out there might be a fullback.
That’s right a FB. The Baltimore Ravens Le’Ron McClain is set to become a free agent and has expressed his desire to play for a team that will use him more then what he was used the last two seasons by the Ravens.
Many of you might be thinking “Sure it would be nice to upgrade at FB, but that’s way down my list of needs.” After the break I’ll explain why I think McClain could be a HUGE asset to our offense and why the Chiefs should make signing him a priority.
Let’s start with the obvious. Le’Ron McClain has the reputation of being one of the very best blocking FB in the NFL. He would be a HUGE upgrade as a lead blocker over either Mike Cox or Tim Castille. He is only 26 years old so he has plenty of prime years left as many top FB play into their thirties.
Now let’s look at the benefits to signing McClain that aren’t as obvious. McClain is not just a good blocker. He’s a great power back. In 2008 he rushed for over 900 yards and 10 TDs. However, the acquisition of Willis McGahee and the rise of Ray Rice made McClain’s role in the offense little more then that of a blocker these last two seasons. It’s a job he does VERY well, but McClain is hungry for more. The National Football Post had this quote from McClain:
“When you feel like you can give a lot more and have proven you can do a lot more and all you’re doing is blocking, it’s a little frustrating at times when they’re telling you, ‘All you got to do is go block this guy.’ But I never let it get to me. I take pride in my game. I gave it my all. With all my heart and might and will, I blocked for Ray Rice. My frustration comes from wanting to do more. When we lost that game against Pittsburgh in the playoffs to not even get one attempt, it was pretty frustrating.”
From that quote it seems unlikely that McClain will resign with Baltimore. The fact that he hasn’t carried the ball very much the last two seasons mean that McClain won’t fetch a RB’s contract, but that of the better FBs. That means that the Chiefs could get a Pro Bowl caliber blocking fullback and a great between the tackles short yardage runner all in one without breaking the bank to do it.
Now I’ll admit that the quote above doesn’t scream “team first” like the Chiefs seem to believe in. However, McClain wasn’t known as a locker room problem. He just would like to go somewhere else now that he’s a FA where he can have a bigger role in the offense.
So could the Chiefs offer him that role?
If they were smart the answer would be yes. Let me start with the obvious again. Even these last two years where McClain wasn’t a featured runner he was still 10 times better then Cox and Castille. Combined over those two seasons the Chiefs fullbacks rushed for a total of 63 yards on 22 carries with one TD. During those same two seasons McClain had 265 yards on 74 carries and 2 TDs. When you look at those numbers they are clearly better then Cox and Castille but nothing to get excited about. However……….
Here’s the number that should move McClain to the top of the Chiefs get list.
Of his 74 carries during the last two seasons 37 went for first downs. I’m no math genius but I’m pretty sure that is 50%. If you dig into his numbers a little more and see that on those 74 carries he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. When you average 3.6 yards per carry and 50% of you carries go for first downs that means you are getting the ball a lot in short yardage situations. That is one area where the Chiefs were flat out terrible these last two seasons.
The Chiefs don’t seem to like to run Jamaal Charles between the tackles on short yardage. Instead they often turned to Thomas Jones. Jones averaged 3.7 yards per carry but only 15.9% of his carries went for first downs. Think about this, Jones got a lot more short yardage carries then Charles but only 15.9% of Jones’ runs went for first downs compared to 30.4% of Charles runs. Jones just isn’t a good third down back anymore. McClain is. So when Charles is at HB McClain could be his lead blocker and then on short yardage they cut put McClain in the back field with Asamoah or Shaun Smith as the “jumbo” FB.
If you still need a little more convincing, how about this? The last two seasons the Chiefs fullbacks combined for 28 receptions for 186 yards. McClain in those same two seasons had 42 receptions for 275 yards. So McClain would be an upgrade as a blocker, short yardage back, and as a receiver out of the back field.
Yes, there may be other positions where the Chiefs have greater needs, but I’m not sure there are any other 26 year old free agents that would be as clear of an upgrade across the board as Le’Ron McClain.
Get on it Pioli. (As soon as there is a new CBA of course)
As usual, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!