The fullback position for the 2010 Panthers offense has proved to be a difficult position to evaluate. The only true fullbacks to see action for the Panthers in 2010 only received 7 carries between them. RB Tyrell Sutton essentially filled the role for a couple games but you can't really tell from the stats which, if any of his carries came while lined up at FB. So this position review is going to be very subjective.
The FB position in a John Fox running game doesn't get many carries; the position is key though simply for the blocking aspect. The 2010 season was the first season since 2000 that the position was not locked down by long-time fan favorite Brad Hoover. If you go back and watch 2008 highlights of RB DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart you will most likely also see Hoover clearing the way for big runs.The dude could simply stone a DE and annihilate LBs. So his replacements in 2010 had big shoes to fill and I think that did affect my 2010 season grades for the position.
2010 Season Stats: 7 carries for 22 yards (3.1 YAC); 5 rec for 34 yds in 14 games and 9 starts
In my view Fiammetta had an inconsistent year in his first season as a starter. He was only a 2nd year player so it's understandable that he struggled at times. I recall throughout the season that on one play he would execute his assignment as required and the next completely whiff. His low YAC is no concern as I imagine most were 3rd and short type of carries where all was needed was a yard. I am surprised he didn't catch more balls out of the backfield but then again given the offense was epically bad it's hard to fault him for that. Yet overall I think he does carry some of the burden for the Panthers starting RBs averaging nearly a yard less per carry than seasons past. Given his athleticism I was hoping for a little more.
A little more after the jump...Rashawn Jackson
2010 Season: None in 2 games and 1 start
I'm not surprised the rookie UDFA was not trusted to carry the rock. Given the limited action it's impossible to really grade the kid but honestly I don't recall him being any worse or better than Tony F in his limited action. Hence I'm going to give him the same grade. I do like his potential and think he has a future.
I've tried to avoid discussing the 2011 season in these reviews since we plan a whole other round of reviews for 2011 but with the FB position I feel so inclined. Though we expect the Panthers to throw the ball more in 2011 under the game plan of Rod Chudzinski I think it's safe to say the FB position will not be obsolete. In fact a player like Fiammetta who has good hands could be quite dangerous in both play action and 3rd and long situations. With the threat to run on any down likely to be present with Cam Newton under center it should allow the FB to get free from the MLB typically assigned to spy the backs coming out of the backfield.Both of the Panther fullbacks have good hands so whoever wins the TC battle should see an increase in touches from 2010.
So in spite of the position being mediocre at best in 2010 I think the current choice between the two young players should be sufficient enough for the Panthers needs in 2011.