There has been no more disappointing area for the Colts offense over the past six years than its inability to rush the football. For some time the ground game was defended as efficient in short-yardage and as a "change of pace" from the Peyton Manning-led passing attack, dismissing its effectiveness as a true offensive weapon -- because it wasn't.
Suffer no delusions, the team is still a work in progress in this area -- due in part to an offensive line that has yet to fully come together -- but 2012 shows more promise in this area than there has been for some time.
In three of the past four games Indianapolis has played it has surpassed the century mark as a team. More importantly, it has done so with and without its starting running back healthy and with a comfortable rotation amongst a backfield with promising young talent.
Donald Brown has really showed progress in 2012, despite the setback from injury, and is finally being used in the role he is most suited for -- outside the tackles on stretch plays, screens, and in space. Second-year back Delone Carter is beginning to show the kind of bowling ball short-yardage toughness he was drafted for in 2011 -- at times breaking numerous tackles and dragging defenders to pick up key yards. Even rookie Vick Ballard has started to show signs of development in his rookie season, rushing for over 80 yards against the Cleveland Browns and catching a pass out of the backfield against the Titans for an impressive barrel-rolling touchdown, awarding the Colts an overtime win.
Of course, the X-Factor in this backfield is that each rusher is aided by the threat of Andrew Luck carrying the ball on his own and using play-action to roll out and earn easy first downs. Each week Luck sets the bar for the next opponent a little higher as he develops and shows even more comfort and poise in the pocket and on the move.
Has the running game been league leading good? Absolutely not. However, there is little doubt that without an effective ground game in 2012, the Colts do not approach their current 4-3 record.
It has been very hard for most Colts fans to approach this season as nothing more than a building year -- and it is -- but the development of this young team in a new era is happening faster than many would have ever predicted. The effectiveness of Indy's rushing attack behind an offensive line that has not yet formed its identity and has been a revolving door since the season began bodes very well for the team's future.
Imagine, Luck will only get better as an NFL passer. He will continue to settle down and develop relationships with his receivers. He will make fewer mistakes, rush fewer throws, and commit fewer unforced errors. If his development is supplemented by the continued growth of a young backfield, the Colts offense will truly be its own monster -- maybe even sooner than anyone thought it could.
Good read----I totally agree Brown cannot run inside--but in some space can be effective and Carter and Ballard can be very tough inside----and now we have a fullback and some tightends who can block. We can not have 3rd-and one with an empty backfield formation--we have got to run! Having Luck with the ability to move and run add a threat I have never seen with the Colts---------WOW
@Blue@Heart Maybe I missed it, but Brown has had quite a few pounding, productive runs inside the tackle. His strengths does lie more in bouncing to the outside and general open space, but you're selling him short on his inside running ability.
As far as I'm concerned, the only real difference between this year and last, QB play aside, is that our 2nd/3rd RB doesn't have fumbleitis (Addai went down with injury and Carter was promoted). I think the blocking looks worse this year and I don't really see any difference in the way Brown is running this year from last.
Arians doesn't seem quite as prone to calling 12 bubble screens a game for 2-3 yards a pop, and Luck is obviously an upgrade in pretty much every facet over the three-headed Failmonster.
You will find that my primary enphasis will never be on statistics. Statistically, last year, we HAD to run because our pass offense was anemic with the quarterback quandry. This year, our backfield threat is more dynamic and effective. We are passing a lot this year, we have a rookie quarterback working himself into a new offense against NFL competition. His presence and the dynamic of our running back corps is vastly superior to last year and has been increasingly more effective as the year continues. In my mind, there is no doubt we have a more talented backfield and a bigger ruahing threat than we did a year ago. More importantly it is getting better and gives reason to have some confidence moving forward. Last year, I don't think anyone could have legitimate confidence in what was growing there. In my mind, screen passes and dump-offs to the backs and scrambles by Luck count in this analysis. @Payton
@coltsauthority @Payton last year the pass run ratio was 60/40 and this its the same. The last two games the ratio has been 50/50. Last the run game was 26th and this this year it's 17th. My only concern this year is the number of times Luck is hit. The more successful the running game is the chances that he is hit decreases.
I could only hear the on Radio. Did Freeney play Sunday? It did not see his name in the boxscore.
@silentkmantab @coltsauthority Frankly you haven't actually put anything out to support your baseless assertions. All of the strongest running teams in the last 5 years failed to make the SB, and even the stronger running teams leaned on their passing both in the season and the postseason to win games instead of running. Teams like GB, Pitt, Arizona, NYG, and even the Pats all made the SB because running is less important. It can be used to close out games, but it's not important in the model NFL.
@Payton @coltsauthority The offensive may have slightly better prior to 2008. Manning ran the ball 4 straight times in the first quarter against the Saints. When was the last time the a manning led team ran the ran 4 straight times, probably never.
it's seems that people like you have to make it personal. it's astounds me that you are always wrong and can't accept facts. You have crossed the line.
If you want to continue your attack on me, so be it.
@silentkmantab @coltsauthority The Cotls offensive line was much better before 2008. Either way, you keep pretending like Manning never had this kind of ratio. Keep dragging it out. The only thing you keep demonstrating is a unique ability to be continuously wrong and then deflect to something only tangentially related or narrowly focused.
If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were BBS
@Payton @coltsauthority In today's football which is quite different from even 5 years ago, the Colts during Manning last 4 years were at 62 % and this year the Broncos are at 57% pass. The point is that passing is trending slight up this but for Manning it's 5% down which is huge for him. The offensive line is much better in Denver.
@silentkmantab @coltsauthority What does that even prove? Passing is far and away more correlated with winning than any thing else. Pass defense is second highest. Running is about as low of a correlation as it gets, and that's only running with a lead in the 2nd half. Even that relies more on efficiency than volume, like every other facet of football...
@Payton @coltsauthority All of the successful (super Bowl teams) can run the ball. A good running game helps the defense too. The saints are a prime example this year. if they could run the ball to help the defense they would be a better team. passing may win some games but running the ball wins championships. Colts ran for 191 yards to win the only Super Bowl in the Manning era.
@silentkmantab @coltsauthority You cannot pass on every down but passing is far more important than running, and being efficient with your carries is far more indicative of winning that raw total or attempts. Honestly using either is kind of pointless, even if YPC is marginally better. FOA's adjusted line yards is probably the best metric
@Payton @coltsauthority Denver and Houston were the top two rushing teams in the league last year. The 49ers were third in attempts. My point is yards and attempts are more important than YPC. In the Colts case I would be thrilled with pass/run ratio of the last two games. You can't pass on every down.
@Payton @coltsauthority Total yards is good indicator of success. The Jets avg 5.0 YPC against the Dolphins and lost. The Dolphins avg 2.9 YPC and won. The Jets had only eight more yards rushing. The point is that you have run sometimes when you know you may not get the 4 YPC. St louis avg 4.7 YPC and lost by 38.