One of the things that interests me about the 2012 squad is how the running backs will fare at protecting the quarterback. Andrew Luck is the new face of the franchise, and his development will likely parallel the Colts' success as a franchise for the next era of football.
In order to attack that question, I've tracked each pass play from 2011, tracking how many snaps each running back was kept back to protect the quarterback. In addition to that, I tracked each read made by the back, assessing whether or not they made the correct read on the pressure. Then I tracked each actual block, labeling it missed, poor, or solid, and then recorded every hit, hurry, and sack that was a consequence of the backs' blocking.
First up in the series is 2006 first round pick, and current New England Patriot Joseph Addai.
According to my count, Addai was held back to block on 76 snaps. Of those snaps, here are his results:
Reads: 61 good, 4 bad
Blocks: 46 solid, 14 poor, 4 missed
Pressure: 8 hurries, 3 hits, 2 sacks
Every back, at some point, was kept back to block but didn't actually have to do anything. This was usually due to the defense not blitzing and the OL keeping the down linemen in check, resulting in the difference between the total reads and total snaps.
Also, occasionally a back would read the blitz correctly, but the quarterback would throw the ball before the blitzer got into the pocket, and the back wouldn't actually have the chance to make the block. This resulted in the difference between the total number of blocks and the total number of reads.
Anyway, Addai made 61 good reads on his 65 plays that actually mattered, a very good 94% rate. Addai's strength has always been his ability to read the defense, something he's been noted for throughout the league throughout his career.
Addai also was very good at getting contact on blocks, only whiffing on a block 4 times out of 64 tries (6%). He very rarely made a bad read (the usual reason a back misses on a block), and when he did he was very good at getting back in position.
However, Addai's 14 poor blocks in 64 tries was the highest rate of the three backs, for several factors. Addai's age and injury troubles looked to be catching up to him at times as he would just look too slow to get in good position at times. On other occasions, he would just lazily throw a shoulder in the general direction of the blocker.
Percentage-wise, it was against New England, where he was held back five times and made a read four times. All four times he made perfect reads accompanied by solid blocks.
Personally, I'd pick the Week 16 win over the Texans, in which Addai was held back 11 times, made 10 good reads, and made nine solid blocks. He did have one missed block, but that was in the case where he made a good read, and then the defender re-routed his blitz around the defensive tackle when he saw Addai filling the gap. Addai couldn't track the blitzer over the OL, and it resulted in a quarterback hurry. Overall though, it was a great performance by Addai.
Week Four against the Buccaneers was easily Addai's worst game. Not only did he give up a hurry and a sack, he made two bad reads (out of nine), half of his bad reads for the season. He also missed a block and had two poor blocks.
Overall, I feel that Addai's abilities are slipping. Obviously, he's had a lot of issues with injuries, which has affected his overall energy and utility. While he still possesses the brain, and his ability to read blitzes, his body is wearing down on him. While his diminishing quickness is missed more in his running, it will affect his ability to pass protect as well. So, pardon me if I'm not too concerned about losing him this off-season.
Addai was an underrated player for a large portion of his career in Indianapolis, but at this point, he's slowing down.