In case you're wondering, Brown is not the biggest bust of all time. There's your daily dose of irony, sarcasm, and blatant lying right there.
If you've read my work for any period of time, you'll know that I've been a big defender of Donald Brown. Most Colts fans have been extremely critical of Brown, especially after his first two years in the league, where he struggled to find and hit holes quickly and was susceptible to going down very easily. I'll admit, I didn't like Brown after his rookie year. I was a fan of Addai, and Brown couldn't pass block, or run well in my opinion. Shoot, in 2010, I thought Mike Hart should have been playing over Brown, and that Brown was terrible in pass protection.
However, after his 2011 season, I am going forward as a fan of Donald Brown. He won me over. He ran well, and after watching the games through the first time, it seemed like he was much more adept at pass blocking than he had in the past. But has he actually, or was my mind playing tricks on me? After reviewing Joseph Addai and Delone Carter earlier this week, we find out whether Brown actually has the skills to move forward as the number one back.
The answer surprised me.
Reads: 62 good, 4 bad
Blocks: 52 positive, 4 poor, 4 missed
Pressure: 2 hits, 0 hurries, 2 sacks
Let me just say this:
I must say, as a defender in Donald Brown, the review surprised even me. Brown, after having two poor initial years in the NFL, was far better than I imagined in pass protection.
I kept expecting him to slip up, and he did, occasionally. He was good for just about one mistake a game. There was only one game where he played at least five snaps and didn't make a mistake (Week 6 against the Bengals: 7 snaps, 5 good reads, 5 solid blocks).
But, it usually stopped there. Brown only had four missed blocks and four bad reads. In each category, they came in four separate games. Brown only gave up four total pressures by my count (PFF gives him two), and they all came in separate games. He did have two games with two poor blocks, but other than that, he generally limited himself.
I was awfully surprised by his 94% success rate in reads, matching Joseph Addai. Brown had a couple hiccups with reads, including one that led to a sack in the Saints game, and one that led to a nasty QB hit against the Bucs. But overall, Brown made the right read, time and time again.
But what I was most impressed by was Brown's ability to stone cold blank blitzing linebackers at times. For a guy who isn't a particularly physical back, and one that could even be labeled small, he was by far the most consistent blocker. His solid block rate of 84% easily beat out Addai's 72%, and crushed Delone Carter's rate of just 58%. Brown used a variety of moves to block blitzing linebackers and surging linemen, sometimes riding them outside and around the quarterback, other times using a cut block to knock them to the ground (which did fail once when the QB didn't get rid of the ball and the linebacker recovered to get a sack), and often times just stopping a blitzer in their tracks with a fantastic straight-up block.
One of the best examples of this came against Carolina in Week 12.
As you can see, Brown is lined up on the right of Curtis Painter, with tight end help on his side (Tamme will stay in to block). This leaves him free in case a blitzing linebacker or defensive back comes in. In this case, the blitzing defender will be the slot cornerback, who doesn't show blitz until just before the snap. Painter does not recognize it, leaving Brown on his own to see the blitzer.
Fortunately for Painter, Brown reacts to the blitzing corner and comes across the pocket to challenge him, getting across Painter's line of vision and into position before the defensive back can get to the pocket.
Look at this form. Brown has a wide base, hands inside, and is lower than the defender. Prototypical form as he stops the DB in his tracks.
As the defender continues to chug his feet, Brown rides him back behind Painter, giving him an excellent pocket to work with as the offensive linemen also do their job. Of course, Painter didn't complete the throw, but that wasn't all that unexpected, was it?
During Week Six against the Bengals, Brown had a very good game, a perfect 5-for-5 in reads and blocks on seven snaps. Like Addai though, he had another game that was slightly more impressive, during Week Nine against the Falcons. During that game he did whiff on a block, but other than that was perfect, getting nine solid blocks on ten good reads.
Brown was at his worst during his first game: Week 4 against the Buccaneers (seems to be a trend). Brown was in the game for just three snaps in pass protection, but had both a good read and a solid block in just one play. On another play, he had a terrible read and missed the block, resulting in a particularly ugly looking quarterback hit. In the final play, Brown read the blitz correctly, but his block really didn't look good at all. Fortunately, Painter got the ball out before it mattered.
Overall, I would really caution anyone in saying Brown cannot pass block. If someone says that to you, point them to the above play. Sure, it's just one play, but it shows that Brown DOES have the skills to be a more than competent pass blocker. Saying that he can't do it, or "BROWN SUX1!!1!!" is just ignorant and lazy. Brown can block, and showed himself to be adept at it over the last year. That's one of the reasons why the coaches trusted Brown at the end of games towards the end of the season, like the Houston win in the LOS, where Addai had a good game, but Brown was the one next to Orlovsky during the final, game winning drive.
In 2011, much like his running, he had a breakout season, especially compared to his first two seasons. Here's hoping he can continue that trend in 2012.
I remember that exact play against Bucs where Brown "missed" the read. IIRC the LG completely missed his assignment on a stunt or a delayed blitz by Clayborn (?), so blaming Brown for a misread there is pretty harsh in my book.
@Payton Looking at it again, you're probably right. There was some form of mis-communication there, because Clayborne wasn't touched. But, whose fault it was is hard to tell from our perspective. Good point there.
I wasn't a fan of the selection of Brown when the Colts took him because I felt Hood wood have provided some much needed relief at DT. However, I have never in my life thought Brown was a bust. All of his running failures from the tape study I have done have almost solely been a poor effort by the offensive line. Sure, he is not the most powerful RB, but its hard to break tackles when as soon as you get the ball, you are met in the backfield.
@RobertItoh I don't mind even if people label Brown a bust. He certainly hasn't lived up to expectations (although I think people's expectations of running backs are skewed). But, that doesn't mean he doesn't have value.
Well to blunt your conclusions effect, HA HA you pretent to have been won over by film study! So despite what the rest of us have seen and the coaches have seen----dropping Brown down the depth chart, even behind a forth round rookie---He is your number one back! Really you think that? And you are not related? Why show Brown picking up a DB as proof,a DB------should not a running back be able to block a lightweight DB? Brown could not be trusted in tight games to block or pick up a tough yard. Keep looking though--we have too.
@Blue@Heart Brown had more carries than anyone last year, and was second just to Addai in amount of snaps in pass protection (by 4 snaps). So, saying Brown wasn't trusted by the coaches is kind of, well, wrong. Besides, we've been railing on the coaches for the past 12 months for being idiotic. One of those things was not using Brown more than they did.
Should Brown be able to block a DB? Yes. I'm unsure what your point is there.
Brown picked up more blocks than anyone last year, and was the best runner. I'm still unsure as to what your point is.
I'm sure you will say that you have watched every single play for the last two seasons, and who am I to argue with you. However, I do believe you've watched every Colts game with your "Donald Brown should never have been a #1 pick" bitter stained glasses.
Do I think Brown is a Pro Bowl running back? No. Do I think Brown shoule have been a first round pick? No. What I do know is that for at least the last season and a half Brown has been by far the best back on the Colts roster. Last year especially he was vastly superior to even Addai and certainly Carter. (In fact, he was about the only bright spot on the whole team.)
If you are not willing to even admit this, please do yourself a favor and get those bittter stained glasses cleaned. You will enjoy life much more.
Doug only you have clear vision=Bright spot of the year? Addai was hurt and Carter had a bad case od the fumbles=Brown led the NFL in east west yards-so being the bright spot, yea right. The bright spot might be Nevis,before he was hurt, middle linebacker coming of age, or canal boy punting like crazy==but of course we are blinded by bitter stains on our glasses==without clear vision like you.
@Kyle Rodriguez @Blue@Heart @DougEngland @Heart @Heart Should have mentioned Angerer as well, obviously. Someone had to get all the tackles that our line missed after losing Foster and Nevis, and it was him. He did well when they were in as well, and reasonably in coverage when it was requeired of him. Orlovsky wasn't extraordinary, but he did admirably and kept us in game compared to others.... Not expecting much from him, he certainly exceeded expectations.
@DougEngland @Kyle Rodriguez I can understand that, but hard to blame him going to the skins when they were willing to give a deal like THAT. Hard to deny that he was the one making the biggest plays on O last year, though. Still, that was my point about Orlovsky, too. Brown is the biggest bright spot from last year that we have coming into this year (on offense).
@Kyle Rodriguez No one play haunts my sports fandom like Garcon's drop in the Super Bowl. So now that he has bolted for the Redskins, I no longer have to feign any goodwill to him. Much less acknowledge him as a bright spot on the 2011 team.
@7IHd @Blue@Heart @DougEngland @Heart I'd say in terms of production on offense, or "bright spots." I'd put Garcon, Brown, and then Wayne. Orlovsky wasn't very good, other than a few little stretches, IMO. On defense, I'd say Angerer, Bethea (who had a down year trying to make up for deficiencies), Conner, and the DT's pre-injury. Mathis/Freeney were good, but way down for their usual numbers.
@Blue@Heart @DougEngland Nevis looked good, as did Foster before devastating injury. Bethea was another bright spot defensively, but honestly, there wasn't anyone who did as much offensively as Brown other than maybe Orlovsky (depending on the game). As Orlovsky is no longer with the team, I don't think it's much of a stretch to call Brown the bright spot of last year's offense (we were 2-14, so it's not like it's saying a whole heck of a lot) and I can't fathom how you don't consider him even ONE of the bright spots on a squad that was struggling so mightily.
Anyone starting to wonder why the backs had their worst game against the Bucs? Seems unlikely that the Bucs scheme was so clever that it fooled all of them. I wonder if there was some internal news/update on Peyton being out for the year that threw them off. Wild speculation obviously. More likely answer is it's just a coincidence.
@psvirsky I wondered the same thing. For a game as close as it was, those mistakes in blocking hurt a lot.
I can't believe you actually titled this post like you did. That's friggin' hilarious.
Perception in athletics is a strange thing. And Donald Brown is a prime example.
Should Brown have been a first round pick? No. Should this taint him in the eyes of Colts fans for the rest of his career... absolutely not.
Just like with all Colts, I hope Delone Carter goes on to have a great career. I have nothing against the guy. But he was terrible his rookie year. He fumbled, he was a terrible blocker and he was not even that effective in short yardage situations. Yet, from what I read and heard, the local media and Colts fans continued to call to see more of him. Why? Because he was only a fourth round pick?
Probably the biggest game of the 2010 season was the Colts game against Jacksonville. The star of that game... Donald Brown. And despite that breakout performance, Brown was no where to be found against the Jets in the playoffs. Yet there was no clamor when the decision was made to go with a broken down Rhodes.
Rhodes was a hero of the Super Bowl run. Brown was a first round pick that shouldn't have been.
So that should have kept the Colts from having there best back on the field?