Daryl Johnston: Understanding Roles of Our FBs in the Chargers Offense

Heneli IongiAnalyst IAugust 25, 2010

5 Jan 1997:  Running back Daryl Johnston of the Dallas Cowboys (center) gets tackled by Carolina Panthers defensive bacl Emmanuel McDaniel during a playoff game at Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Panthers won the game, 26-17. Mandatory
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

I got into a little debate with a Raider fan a long time ago.  The debate was based on a article I wrote awhile back appropriately named "Pick Your Poison: A Look at the 2010 Chargers Offensive Arsenal".  In that article, I named Jacob Hester and Mike Tolbert as part of the Chargers offensive weapons.  This Raider fan, from what I gather, didn't know much about the Chargers offense, so I decided to write this article on why these guys are weapons.

If there is ever a indication of what Tolbert and Hester's worth to the Chargers offense, we'll have to take a step back in time to the first player that made that position what it is today.  That player is Daryl Johnston.  

If it wasn't for Daryl Johnston, there would be no FB vote in the Pro Bowl today.  What he did was nothing short of extraordinary as he was one of the most dynamic players in the game.

Dynamic, not versatile.  

People get those two words confused all the time.  He wasn't lined up all over the place but what he did was pass-block, run-block, run with the ball, and catch the ball out of the backfield.  That's dynamic.  

Why can I look at Daryl Johnston as a indication of what Tolbert and Hester can hopefully be?  Because the one person that orchestrated the Cowboys offense in which Daryl Johnston flourished in is none other than the current Head Coach for the San Diego Chargers.  

Johnston was a ordinary FB during his first two years in the NFL.  Turner came in and turned him into a viable weapon in the passing game or running game whether he's the runner, pass-catching receiver, or blocker.  

During Turner's time as the offensive coordinator, he installed his version of the Vertical Offense.  Johnston had 54 yards rushing , averaging 3.2 yards per carry, and 28 receptions for 244 yards in his first season.  During his second season, he improved in the new offense with 61 yards rushing, averaging 3.6 yards per carry, and 32 receptions for 249 yards.  In his third season, he went on to have 74 rushing yards, averaging 3.1 yards per carry, and 50 receptions for 372 yards.

He wasn't the main weapon on the Cowboys offense, but he was the person that made everyone better.  He gave the QB extra time.  He helped a young Emmitt Smith gained massive amounts of yardage in the running game.  He helped the Cowboys move the ball in the passing game.  

These are the same attributes that can be found in both Tolbert and Hester for the San Diego Chargers.  If you look at what they did in a combined effort in the FB position, you can see how Turner is using them to help the Chargers offense move the ball in much of the same way Turner helped the Cowboys move the ball.

Both Tolbert and Hester been in the league for two seasons, all with the Chargers.  Both Tolbert and Hester combined at the FB position had 132 yards rushing, averaging 4.1 yards per carry, and 25 receptions for 262 yards in their first season.  In their second season together, Tolbert and Hester combined for 222 yards rushing, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and 26 receptions for 216 yards.

Now, you can see that the Chargers FB's play a important role on the team in being very dynamic.  It gives the Chargers a lot more options during a game.  Defenses might look at the RB, TE, and WR of the Chargers only to neglect their FB as a viable threat to keep the drive alive.  This is what the FB's can do for the Chargers.

It's still early in both Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester's career, but after seeing what Daryl Johnston did in Turner's offense, I think it's safe to say that both Tolbert and Hester are just as much weapons to their team as Johnston was to his.  


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