In today’s NFL, the fullback is a mostly forgotten position. Last season less than 20 teams kept a fullback on their 53-man roster, and over the past few years the position has been dying out as a whole. Teams that do employ fullbacks primarily use them in short-distance run situations in blocking roles.
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys continued to follow this mold. The team acquired fullback Jamize Olawale from the Oakland Raiders in the 2018 offseason. While in Oakland, Olawale did make some plays for the Raiders offensively. Oakland would utilize Olawale’s speed by having him run wheel routes out of the backfield like the play shown below.
During his last three years in Oakland, Jamize Olawale had 77 touches, 544 yards, and 5 TDs. Last year with the Cowboys, he had just 2 touches for 13 yards and no TDs.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 20, 2019
Could the "Olawale Special" finally be coming to Dallas?
(Video courtesy @NickHjeltness ) pic.twitter.com/Ttc2SkvLiU
In his best statistical season in 2017, he caught 12 passes for 227 yards and ran the ball 17 times for 42 yards. Despite not being a huge feature in the offense, Olawale did serve a small role, and when he was on the field it was not a virtual guarantee the offense would be running the football. In Dallas in 2018, he did virtually nothing in Scott Linehan’s offensive scheme. He caught just two passes for 13 yards while playing just 114 snaps in 16 games.
This year there is a new sheriff in town, and first-year coordinator Kellen Moore seems to have a plan to use Olawale much more in the offense. By all indications, Olawale has had a strong camp, and it is apparent Dallas plans to use him much more in their downfield passing offense.
One thing is clear about the Cowboys’ offense this season, they will use the fullback in the downfield passing game. Dak just hit Jamize Olawale on a deep ball along the right sideline in 7 on 7— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 21, 2019
One of the best players on the field so far today is fullback Jamize Olawale. Catching passes down the field and even helping out at tight end.— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) August 21, 2019
When asked about Moore’s role for him in the offseason, Olawale credited Moore for putting some plays in the offense to help get him involved.
“He’s putting in some plays for me, and he told me before I signed how they wanted to use me. That’s something I’ve been excited about, enjoying my role in this offense.”
When Olwale signed a three-year, $5.4 million-dollar contract extension back in March, it was clear Dallas had a larger role in mind for him in their offense. The Cowboys have shown this summer that they plan to run some 21 personnel in their offense. This would give Olawale a chance to get on the field with Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard in the backfield and create some interesting looks. Despite being a fullback, Olawale has outstanding speed to go with the versatility to flex out to the tight end position or go all the way outside and line up like a receiver.
This season, the way the Cowboys use their fullback will be different than ever before. Jamize Olawale will have a real role in this offense, and it is all thanks to new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.