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article imageOp-Ed: Return of the Fridge

By Paul Raymond Jr     Oct 29, 2008 in Sports
William Perry was best known in his days as the mammoth fullback for the Chicago Bears. When in reality he was a defensive lineman used occasionally to bulldoze opponents. Well some teams are looking to bring back that style.
Let’s take a look back in to time, the year? 1985. The Chicago Bears had a 6 foot 2 mammoth defensive lineman, his name William Perry. While not quite to his peak career weight of 382 pounds he still was huge compared to the rest of the competition. He was so big that his nickname was “The Refrigerator” or better known as “The Fridge”. His coach, Mike Ditka, knew this guy was to big for anyone to stop and decided to throw a nice wrinkle in to his game plan. That involved using the defensive lineman on short yardage plays, on the OFFENSIVE side of the ball, mainly when the Bears were within the five yard line about to score. Ditka knew he was unstoppable and it showed as the Fridge had two rushing touchdowns in eight plays, and one receiving touchdown to go with his one catch. Now time to come back to the present day, 2008. Multiple teams are starting to deploy this strategy again. Let’s look at the teams that are looking to find their own Fridge.
First, the Baltimore Ravens. During last Sunday’s game, the Ravens decided to use 350 pound nose tackle Haloti Ngata in their short yardage package. Head coach John Harbaugh added his own wrinkle thou, and used Ngata as a blocking tight end. His decision worked as Willis McGahee took the hand off and followed his mammoth tight end into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run. Lining up Ngata at tight end, made more since then full back for the Ravens as the team doesn’t have much size at the position.
Another team looking to explore a similar strategy, the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are exploring all possibilities as they fight to get back into the playoff race. The Browns this year have been horrendous in short yardage situations, mainly when it comes to the first and goal. This past weekend they had ten goal line plays against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and chose to throw the ball on seven of those. “One thing I’ve learned in my short time in the NFL is what I think doesn’t matter,” said fullback Charles Ali. “But I just think we need to stay with it [pounding the ball] and get it done.”
When it comes to short yardage help, the Browns roster offers some intriguing possibilities. They have two large defensive lineman who could succeed in a Fridge type role, they would be Shaun Smith and the beast Shaun Rogers. Rogers has proven this year that despite his size, he’s very agile and could do numerous things to help this team. To me and many others, he could easily fit the role Mr. Perry used to hold. “You know what? We talked about that a little bit,” coach Romeo Crennel told the Cleveland Plains Dealer. The problem is it sounds as if Rogers isn’t really interested in helping out on the offensive side. When asked about playing offense, Rogers told the paper, “I doubt that’s going to happen.” Smith on the other hand is a former tailback and would enjoy the challenge even at his current playing weight of 325 pounds.
One team has used their defensive players quite liberally on the offensive side, but none in the role that the Fridge made popular. The New England Patriots have used linebacker Mike Vrabil as a tight end on many, many occasions. They’ve even used linebacker Dan Kleco as a fullback, shoot Klecko is now listed as a fullback on the Philadelphia Eagles roster.
While there is no guarantee that Shaun Rogers will be playing fullback, it’s refreshing to see that the Browns are considering using the big man in this role. While I was too young to remember the Fridge, I’ve seen the highlights. Seeing a guy of that size lay down some killer blocks for his tail back is entertaining. But nothing is better then seeing a guy the size of a fridge take the ball and run through both lines for a touchdown. The creativity, even if it is copied from the old days, is back in the NFL and it’s great to see the different styles and schemes being used again.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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