Baltimore Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk has revitalized a position that was once forgotten in the NFL.
Christmas Day, Ravens vs. Steelers, the battle for the AFC North divisional title. With 1:25 left in the 4th quarter, Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk took the hand-off from quarterback Joe Flacco. He was stuck by Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, but broke off of the tackle and scored a touchdown, putting the Ravens up 27-24. What happened after is a story for another day, but NFL fans finally got to see how great of a player he is.
For many fans, they have no idea that the Ravens have a fullback, let alone how to say his last name. But if you are a Ravens fan, you about Kyle Juszczyk.
The Ravens drafted the fullback in the 4th round of the 2013 draft. Juszczyk had a fantastic career at Harvard, earning a first-team All-Ivy League selection in his senior year. But even with his accomplishments, he was not invited to the NFL combine. This is not a surprise, because this rarely happens. There is nothing glamorous about the fullback position. Most of the time, they do not get on the stat sheet because they are leading a block through the hole.
From the 70s through the 2000s you would find a fullback on almost every team. The names of Lorenzo Neal, Mike Alstott, and Tony Richardson made their living on leading the way for the running back. In today’s league, times have changed. The NFL is a more pass happy league and teams would rather play a style of offense without a fullback. Coaches find it more beneficial to have an extra tight-end or receiver in the formation. The position is now considered to be a dying breed and fullbacks are hard to come by.
For the Baltimore Ravens, they have something special with their fullback.
More Than A Blocker
The Baltimore Ravens love to use a fullback in their offense. Whether it has been Le’Ron McClain or Vonta Leech, there was always a big man lined up in the backfield. Both McClain and Leech were big bruisers, but Juszczyk is more versatile.
While Juszczyk does a great job lead blocking during games, but he brings other skills to the table such as receiving. He is arguably one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets during games and is effective when he touches the ball. The Ravens love to use him in the passing game, in screen plays. There is nothing more exciting than cheering for a 240 pound fullback as he rumbles his way down the field.
During his career, he has caught 5 touchdowns and ran in 1. In 2015, he finished the season with a career high 321 yards receiving. Some teams hope to get that kind of production out of their wide receiver, let alone a fullback.
His play in the 2016 earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl. The selection was a much deserved one for a very underrated player.
A Must Keep
This off-season, Juszczyk is set to be an unrestricted free agent. It would not be a popular move if the team did not re-sign him. Juszczyk has developed into a crowd favorite. The nickname “Juice” can be heard at any Ravens home or away game. He has really shown the importance of a position that has been long forgotten in this league.
The Ravens are tight on cap room, but the front office must make it a priority to keep him on the team. They are making a mistake if they choose to let him go off to another team. His production is important to the offense and he is a one of a kind player. It is not often you are going to find a fullback with his versatility and knowledge for the game of football. He is the key to paving the way for the young duo of Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon next season.