Myth:Teams Can't Run the Ball out of the Ace Formation: A Response to a Fan

Justin JavanCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11:  Joseph Addai #29 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on October 11, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)



Rich Cannon   Oct. 15 at 6:31am Report

"All we do is run outta single back n shotgun formations...we don't have edge james anymore we can't do that..we never run any I formation and give addai any extra back field blocking.. U can't tell me a team in the nfl that is successful running the ball out of single back formation all the time!!!!"

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This is a great email. I chose to post my response on the Bleacher Report because this is a misconception held by many fans and analysts.

Now, let me disprove it.

When we go back and look at the running stats between 2002 and 2007, the Colts had great success running the ball out of the Ace Formation.  If you look at when the drop-off started to occur, it was after Tarik Glenn retired at left tackle, and Jake Scott was not re-signed at right guard.

Keep in mind that the Colts are a team that throw the ball to set up the run. Peyton forces teams to play a cover-2 shell because this is an offense that stretches teams vertically, leaving seven in the box against the run.

If teams decide to go to Cover-0 or Cover-1, then Peyton will call an audible and get out of the running play.  He knows he is going to have man coverage on the outside. Peyton’s going to call a hot route and have Reggie Wayne run a go route. With no safety help over the top (Cover-0) or a single high safety (Cover-1), this adjustment at the line usually results in a touchdown.

Keeping that in mind, both the “Edge” and Joe Addai have run the ball very well out of this formation.  One has only to go back and look at the tape or the stats to see that this is true.

Here are the problems that we have running the ball now: 1) If you read my article about "Offensive Line Basics II: Run Blocking," you know that one of an offensive lineman’s most important tasks is to "blow his man off the line."

2) Jeff Saturday is getting older and he is having a harder time doing that.

3) To Jeff’s right is Mike Pollack, an inconsistent blocker who affects Jeff Saturday’s and Ryan Diem’s ability to run block.  Remember, an offensive line is like a machine; if one of the parts is faulty, then the machine doesn’t run well.

4) The Colts can’t seem to seal off the edge when they run the stretch play to the right. This falls mainly on the shoulders of the right guard and right tackle; though, to a lesser degree, the tight end and the flanker are also responsible for sealing off the edge.

When the edge is penetrated, the RB is supposed to be able to bounce the run inside and run through the "6" hole.  Too many times, defensive linemen and linebackers are getting penetration through that hole because Mike Pollack has problems blocking.  What is weird about Mike is, when it comes to pulling him and trap blocking, he does a very good job. The left side of the line plays very well, and runs to that side almost always gain yards.

Also, don't forget that when Manning throws the ball to Addai in the backfield, that is just like an extended handoff.  In reality, those are running yards. If you go to and look up total rushing yards for the Colts from 2002 to 2007, they have run, on average, 1713 yards per season. Their best year for running the ball was 2004, when total yards were 1,852.

The bottom line is that it's not the formation and it's not the backs fault that the Colts struggle running the ball; it's the line. It started in 2008 and it's continuing into 2009. I encourage you not to take my word about the rushing yards. Here is the link to the rushing stats for each year: