John Conner can be proud of one thing.
His (not really) surprising release last year promoted the belief that Cincinnati needs a true fullback, especially with the slow development of Orson Charles, who was the product of we like him, he's talented, we're just not sure what to do with him.
Chris Pressley, the only natural fullback on the team's offseason roster, spent the season recovering from a torn ACL. So the team used defensive tackle Domata Peko (which was actually fairly entertaining) in shot-yardage situations and often dropped Tyler Eifert into an H-Back role when the call necessitated it. However, Pressley will become a free agent in March.
The team might be looking for a natural fullback to help open lanes for a Hue Jackson offense that envisions more physicality with a consistent running game. Keep in mind, it's not about running the ball more -- Cincinnati ranked eighth with 481 total attempts. The issue was an efficient running game, which it wasn't -- Cincinnati ranked 27th last season with a 3.6 yard/rush average.
Chatting with the media on Saturday, Hue Jackson told reporters that the team needs a full back but didn't offer much certainty on the direction that Cincinnati will go. Then he clammed up when the issue was pressed.
Q: Do you need a fullback?
HJ: Yeah.You do need a fullback on the football team.
Q: Can Orson (Charles) do it?
HJ: We’re going to find out.
Q: Do you need a traditional fullback, like a John Conner?
HJ: What I would love to have is that I’m going to take whatever the organization’s going to give me.
Unfortunately for Conner supporters, the realization -- or the application of a fullback friendly offensive coordinator -- came a bit late. Actually, let's apply "unfortunately" to everyone, considering that Pro Football Focus graded Conner as the fourth-best fullback last season with the third-best run blocking score in the NFL.