How many running backs of note have the Colts had that you can name since Edgerrin James packed his bags in 2006?
Joseph Addai was a nice heir apparent for a couple years before tailing off. Donald Brown was counted on to fix the lackluster running game as a rookie in 2009 but has not lived up to his first-round billing.
Vick Ballard and Delone Carter have both also helped contribute in recent years, and new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton has said that the Colts are “a physical, downhill-running football team”. But for a team with a Pro Bowl quarterback and wide receiver and talented tight ends, the reality is that the Colts will always be a pass-first offense.
That’s the way the NFL has gone lately, with signal callers airing it out downfield to score touchdowns and running backs transforming into complementary role players. Since passing wins games today, quarterback protection has become a primary point of emphasis.
After a lackluster first preseason game against Buffalo, the first-team offense pretty much did everything right the next week at the Meadowlands. In the first half, Andrew Luck threw for 107 yards and two touchdowns with a 133.7 quarterback rating, not to mention zero sacks.
Yes, it’s preseason, where the standings don’t matter. Blah, blah, blah. I get it.
But after owner Jim Irsay called out the team on Twitter the previous week following its 44-20 loss to Buffalo, in which he cited a “crap performance”, you have to be encouraged.
For one, Irsay was in a better mood on Twitter following the game, and the first-team offense was buzzing by halftime with 17 points. The starting defense kept the Giants out of the end zone all night despite being plowed a few times.
And that much-maligned running game? It looked nothing like what Pep Hamilton preached, racking up only 88 yards on 33 carries, a measly 2.7-yard average.
And that “balanced” pass-run ratio of 18 passes and 12 runs? Forget it. It doesn’t matter, not in a pro-passing league.
As long as the Colts can run the ball when they need to convert on, say, third-and-short or fourth-and-inches, they will be fine. Just a little Luck will go a long way.