In a league where fullbacks are a dying breed, James Develin has really produced for the New England Patriots. He played 33 snaps in last Saturday’s win against the Indianapolis Colts, which was one shy of his career-high. With the way the running game is going right now, Develin might play right around that many snaps against the Denver Broncos this Sunday.
Josh McDaniels called an even amount of I-formation and two-tight end looks against the Colts. While both formations can be considered evenly run-heavy, it is still surprising to see McDaniels calling 33 plays for each. That tells us that McDaniels really trusts Develin who has truly excelled as a run blocker.
While the two-tight end formation is theoretically better for run-blocking (because tight ends are generally bigger than fullbacks), one cannot argue the production that McDaniels has gotten from using the I-formation. Develin’s last two games have been the two games in which he has been the most involved, and coincidentally they have been the two games where the Patriots’ rushing attack has really taken off. There is no way that McDaniels can go away from the I-formation now.
The strategy cannot be argued, either. Tom Brady has lost so many of his top pass catchers that McDaniels almost has no choice but to install a run-heavy offense. And the best way to do so is to install heavy personnel, like maybe checking into a formation that features a fullback, two tight ends and just one wide receiver. It may sound crazy, but that is what the Patriots are right now and Develin is playing a large role in shaping the team’s identity on offense.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.