Jason McKie labors at fullback, arguably the most thankless position in all of NFL football. Critics will vehemently object to this claim and intimate that the token offensive lineman clearly is the most taken for granted unit on this side of the ball. Yes, the offensive lineman battles in the trenches at the line of scrimmage with zero recognition emanating from the casual fan. However, I must argue the left tackle has obviously emerged as a glamour position per the NFL Draft and free agency market. Four offensive tackles were drafted in the first-round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Tony Fiammetta out of Syracuse was the first fullback selected in this year’s draft. The Carolina Panthers picked the Orange product in the fourth round at 128th overall. Obviously, left tackles and solid interior lineman are coveted with high draft picks and big bucks, while fullback stalwarts languish far away from the spectacle.
Jason McKie, 8-year veteran went undrafted into the NFL and earns his $655,000 annual salary, which is barely above the League minimum.
Still, McKie played fullback for the Temple Owls from 1998-2001. Despite performing for the traditional doormat of the Big East, McKie exhibited the capability to run the football, block, and catch the ball out of the backfield against quality competition. The team captain totaled 1160 rushing and receiving yards from scrimmage while at Temple.
McKie moved through the ranks of the NFL from the 2002 Philadelphia Eagles practice squad, to be being signed and cut by the Dallas Cowboys, to finally earning a starting role with the Chicago Bears in 2006. Jason McKie must really know what work is all about.
Jason McKie, Chicago Bears Fullback, Scouting Report
Jason McKie at 5’11 and 245 lbs. is a load.
This man is a solid lead blocker at fullback. McKie paved the way with road grading blocks at the point of attack for 1,000-yard rushers Thomas Jones and Matt Forte. McKie even led the mercurial Cendric Benson to 647 yards and a 4.1 per carry average in 2006. McKie rarely carries the ball himself and has only hit pay dirt six times during his NFL career.
Indeed, this is a thankless job.
Jason McKie is a viable pass catcher on flares into the flats and circle routes from within 5 – 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. The fullback snagged 25 receptions amidst Chicago’s 2006 Super Bowl XLI run. This 2006 season 180-yard output of total offense proved to be his best year, synonymous with the performance of most veteran Bears.
Lastly, McKie will not shy away from the special teams maven role.
Jason McKie is simply a blue collar, lunch pail type of football player.
Jason McKie, Chicago Bears Fullback, 2009 Outlook
McKie will have more opportunities to shine into 2009-2010.
The fullback’s production as a rusher and receiver plunged dramatically in the aftermath of the Super Bowl loss to Indianapolis. McKie has been limited to 20 catches for 97 yards and 17 rushing attempts for 43 yards combined over the past two seasons. Single-back, double tight end sets have become all the rage at Soldier Field and the Greg Olsen / Desmond Clark combination typically leaves McKie as the odd man out.
Certainly, the drop off in production is particularly troubling, considering the fact that Matt Forte carried the football 316 times as a rookie and could not get off the field. Forte was the offense in 2008 and the Chicago backfield stable must step up and share the load to extend this talent’s career. Although Forte rushed for 1,238 yards, the Bears ground attack still ranked 24th in the League.
The Orlando Pace and Jay Cutler acquisitions will allow McKie to engage defenders one-on-one at the point of attack for run blocking and release into the flats as a receiver. Pace will help the Bears offensive line to improve over last season. Hence, McKie will be able to effectively meet middle and strong side linebackers in the hole from the Power – I, rather than being swamped by man eating defensive lineman up front.
Of course, offensive coordinator Ron Turner will feel more comfortable with the quick-release Jay Cutler airing out the football under center. Cutler is less likely to take drive killing sacks and Turner’s play calling should feature more flexibility. Expect Jason McKie to flash open into pass patterns, rather than being forced to remain in the pocket per max protection throwing packages.
Jason McKie will have a solid 2009 season, with at least 20 catches, and 3 short-yardage touchdowns.
Jason McKie, Chicago Bears Fullback, Profile and Scouting Report, Sources:
The Official Web Site of Jason McKie, http://www.jasonmckie.org/
The Official Web Site of the Chicago Bears, http://www.chicagobears.com/index.html
The Official Web Site of the NFL, http://www.nfl.com/