If you look at Donald Brown's stats from Sunday's game, you would have plenty of ammunition for the "Boom-or-Bust" label that so many have affixed to him.
Five runs of a yard or less: -2, -4, -3, 0, and 1-yard carries.
Total: -8 yards on five carries.
Four runs of seven or more yards: 18, 18, 13, and 7-yard carries.
Total: 56 yards.
But Brown wasn't indecisive or slow on the runs where he wasn't getting anything, a negative assumption often made when a back has stats like that. The problem wasn't with Brown's running, but the offensive line's boom-or-bust nature.
If you watch the runs from Brown, you can't blame Brown for losing yards. On those five runs of a yard or less, Brown was hit in the backfield (no dancing or hesitating) on four of them. On each play at least one defender penetrated into the backfield:
- 12:28 in first- whole line gets pushed back on snap, hit by three Bears two yards deep
- 5:51 in first- Seth Olsen blown by, Brown hit immediately after getting the ball. -4
- 15:00 in third- Pitch right, linebacker penetrates, Brown beats to edge, but Justice's block whiffs on corner, who forces Bown out of bounds for 1 yard
- 9:20 in third- Entire interior line pushed back, Brown hit by all three interior linemen three yards back
- 7:46 in third- three Bears penetrate, Brown squeezes through to get back to line
On Brown's four runs that were successful, he showed good vision, cutbacks, and toughness. His blocking was assuredly better on these, his first 18-yard run was especially good blocking, but the line still wasn't dominating on these four plays:
- Good initial hole, Brown bounces off of tacklers for 16 yards after contact, 11 yards bouncing through good, solid hits
- Not a good hole, but Brown found enough of an opening to cut back and burst through to the second level, churns through the final 3 yards for the touchdown
- Good vision, cuts to gain 7 yards on ok blocking
- Again good vision, cuts, got 7 extra yards after contact
The boom or bust day really is a bigger indicator of what the line will be throughout the year. It's no coincidence that the more successful runs came on delays, draws, and trap plays. When the offensive line can take the defense by surprise, they have the size to get some push, and open up space for running backs. With Brown, that can lead to big gains.
But, in terms of consistently beating the defensive line, the unit is likely going to disappoint all year. There are so many weak spots on the line (especially with Reitz injured), that any one of them can falter on an individual play. Sometimes, as was the case multiple times on Sunday, two or three of them can falter on an individual play.
If the unit can gel together, especially with Reitz back in the lineup, it can be much better. While I don't have much faith in Mike McGlynn, he was miles better than Seth Olsen on Sunday. With Reitz in at left guard, the unit, while not perfect by any means, would have a much higher chance of success.
Good analysis, Kyle. Seeing those 5 negative runs dissected is enlightening, to say the least. Knowing that on 3 of those the entire interior line collapsed makes the abysmal level of the OL quite apparent. There were 15 plays counting Luck´s runs, so on at least 20% of all runs, three or more linemen coincided in total incompetence, with the added turnover risk it implies. If Donald Brown can keep doing what he did on Sunday, minus the two very bad drops, he´ll be the best hope for some offensive consistency while Luck gets his feet under him.
joe reitz is ok but the fact that losing him opens up a gaping hole in the line tells you how bad our line is. colts should give local guy ryan baker a shot. he's been with the dolphins a few times.
It's really too bad because it does seem like he has the potential to be a very good RB. He really looks like a better blocker - I saw a couple nice blitz pick-ups on Sunday. He's clearly explosive. But those two drops and the fact that he rarely has anywhere to run gives people ammunition to complain about him. I hope the O-line can shore up at some point just so he can show everyone what he's got.
I thought Brown ran well, but his two dropped passes were killers (especially the first one). You just can't do that when you have a bad O-line and a rookie QB.
@rogcohen Definitely. The drops were bad. No excuse.
@rogcohen Couldn't agree more. And you could just see, especially after the first one that he was shocked he dropped it. (Jerked his head around before he had secured the ball to see how many yards he could run for.) And then he did the exact thing a second time.
@rogcohen Agreed. First one hurt.