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Roster Rundown: Clutts Brings New Pace To Backfield


*Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features fullback Tyler Clutts*

Name: Tyler Clutts
Position: Fullback
Height/Weight: 6-2/254
Experience: 3 seasons
College: Fresno State

Key stat:Clutts joined the roster during the bye week, just prior to the trip to Chicago. It'd be a mistake to attribute all of DeMarco Murray's late-season success to the fullback, but it's worth noting that Murray averaged 106 yards per game during the month that Clutts was helping to pave his way.

Contract Status:Signed through 2014.

2013 Impact:I was surprised the front office went this route with a roster spot coming out of the bye, but it wasn't a bad move at all. I was not really sure how much Clutts was going to help in the running game. The line was doing a much better job of handling the zone scheme and Murray was meshing with them nicely, so adding a fullback to work in front of him was not what I viewed as a difference maker.

As a matter of fact, the offense ran the ball the majority of the time in either "11" or "12" personnel, without the fullback, which I have always believed that was the best way to help Murray. To me, he has always been a better one-back runner because he is not an explosive player with the ball in his hands and if you made him have to wait to hit the hole, he was going to have trouble gaining any momentum.

When Murray last had a true fullback in front of him, it was Tony Fiammetta two seasons ago. Where this combination worked, is that Fiammetta never made Murray to have to wait to read his block. He was able to adjust on the move, cleaning up any blocks that the offensive line failed to secure and he let Murray work off his man in space. [embedded_ad]

To Clutts' credit, when he was in the game, he did not get in Murray's way at the point of attack nor did he make him have to wait for his read. He was able to come off his block and work into his assigned man and work him out of the play. What also helped the running game were the opponents. In Clutts' first two weeks with the club, he faced the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, who ranked at the bottom of the league when it came to defending the run.

Where He Fits: I still believe Murray will do a better job as a one back runner, and under Scott Linehan, we should see more of that. If you go back to the 2013 season, when Linehan was in Detroit, the majority of his offensive snaps were in "11" personnel without the fullback. If there is a fit for Tyler Clutts, it is going to have to be in some special formation packages and on special teams, but there really is no guarantee that will even be the case going forward.   

Writers' Analysis:

David Helman:Ironically, the play that stands out the most from Clutts' month with the team was his biggest gaffe of the season. On the third play of the third quarter against Washington, he took a short pass from Tony Romo and promptly fumbled it deep in Cowboys' territory. The turnover led to a Redskins touchdown, and it sparked a 17-0 run for the opposition. The Cowboys eventually dug out of a nine-point hole for the win, but not without some last-second heroics.

It remains to be seen what the Cowboys plan to do with Clutts, especially with their commitment to several different tight ends. Still, it can't hurt to have an experienced backfield blocker available in the right situations, and Clutts seemed far superior in that department to any of his tight end counterparts.

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