Colts Roundtable: Will Ground Game Improve or Stay Grounded?
This discussion is a landmark in the Colts Community here on Bleacher Report. It is the first of many weekly discussions among some of the top writers in the community.
This week the topic arising is the Indianapolis Colts running game. Will it ever bounce back? Or will their ground game remain...grounded?
I scoured the community for the top writers that have consistently delivered great articles time and time again. I brought them to one spot.
One Topic. One Article. One Voice.
The Indianapolis Colts have a history of running the football well to set up the playaction pass threat. Running and throwing come hand in hand. If a defense doesn’t have to respect the run, they will play the pass.
Joseph Addai has been injured a few times this year, leaving Dominic Rhodes to carry the load all by himself with a less-than-mediocre rookie offensive line.
I looked to a few good friends of mine for what they believe the reasons are, and what they foresee in the future, on this detrimental aspect of football.
Corey McSweeney, Trevor Roby, Ryan Michael, and Marisa Scolamiero speak on behalf of the Colts' community and answer some key questions.
I lean on Corey when it comes to statistical matters. Here is what Corey has to say about what these Rushing Stats mean:
“Let’s look at the numbers. 19 carries for 62 yards. As a team. Dom Rhodes was 7 for 28, a 4.0 clip, and Joseph Addai was 12 for 34, a (oh no)…(here it comes)….(I can’t look)…2.8 yard per carry average. Yikes! Ok, well the game was against Pittsburgh. We have to keep that in mind.”
He continues, “So what do all these fancy stats mean? Obviously, the run game wasn’t very effective against Pittsburgh, that’s a given. Forget just Pittsburgh, it’s been putrid all season.
But what else is it telling? For me, two things.
One, the entire team only rushed 19 times. Most starting RB’s get 20-25 carries, with the rest going to backups. This tells me Tony Dungy and Tom Moore are unhappy enough to put more pressure on the passing offense.”
So, we’ve heard what the stats are. What are some of the key contributing factors to these stats?
Ryan Michael has a good outlook on this.
“Will the Colts running game pick up? As any Colts fan would hope for, the answer would be yes. But that is a simple answer to a much more complicated situation. We first have to look at why the running game has been struggling.
At first I feel as if the injuries to the offensive line were to blame. But now even with the return of some of our top guys, we still seem to struggle. I believe that the lack of stability in the o-line throughout the season may have contributed to this. “
Here’s Ryan’s thoughts on Joseph Addai’s presence, or the lack thereof.
“An issue I see with Addai is his field vision. Granted, the blocking has not been excellent but we always see him run right behind the O-line and rarely, if ever run through whatever holes there might be. With the great coaching staff Indianapolis has and the athletic ability Addai possesses, expect him to improve with time, not get worse.”
Trevor Roby tells us a little more on the subject of the failing rushing attack and what it does to this team.
“Not having an adequate running game has really hurt the Colts this season on short third downs and plays at the goal line.”
He says,” Now that Peyton seems to have found a groove, the passing game has flourished. Which is hiding the running struggles from the naked eye. The arm of Peyton, and the hands of Marvin are all people think about. Not the Legs of Addai and Rhodes. They don't focus just on the running game, which allows defenses of other teams to look past it and allowing the Colts to make big breaks every now and then. Addai's longest yard pick-up of this season is 78 yards.”
Marisa Scolamiero spills the beans on the Pittsburgh game and also what needs to happen in the future for the ground game..
“Against Pittsburgh none of these guys ran for over 35 yards on the ground or via a pass from Peyton. Joseph Addai has been battling the injury bug on and off this season so it is difficult to say whether or not he will fully bounce back, but since I'm an optimist, I'd like to think that Addai is going to regain his old form.
The others are going to have to do the same thing because they are not gaining enough yards on the ground. The Colts have a quarterback who is capable of throwing bombs and if the team runs up against a tough defense where they aren't able to score based on the passing game, they're going to need to rely on the rushing attack.”
My outstanding roundtable team all seem to agree that there really are three key things that we will see unfold in future games:
1. A more stable and healthy O-line which will build chemistry the longer they get to play as a cohesive unit this year.
2. A healthy Joseph Addai who will improve his ability to find holes in the defense.
3. An improved passing game which will open up the run.
And here, my friends, is my opinion…as if it really matters! HAHA!
I truly think that there is nothing wrong with our running game except two factors. In previous games, we have tried to run the ball early, gotten stuffed and fell behind early on the scoreboard, forcing us to throw the football to catch up.
There are many things that need to fall into place for a team to have a good running game, and some of them, not everyone thinks about.
1. Your defense must prevent teams from scoring early on and thus putting pressure on the offense to score fast.
2. If at first, your running game doesn’t succeed, try and try again. I’ve seen them abandon the run too often this season.
3. Addai’s best running play is the stretch to the end of the offensive line, where Manning sprints to the edge to hand the ball off. With Jeff Saturday pulling out and racing to the edge for lead-blocking, this is a very huge run play.
Peyton still is tossing to Addai on this play because he seemingly does not trust that knee injury just yet. When this play comes back, the running game will be there. I promise!
I’d like to extend my thanks to all the special people that have made this Roundtable possible. Stay on your toes, because next weeks topic will boast some of the most controversial aspects that make for a great article!
And be sure to let me know why you think you would be a great addition to this panel, as well as leaving me a link to your most credible work!
UNTIL THEN, KEEP BLEEDING BLUE COLTS FANS!
YELL, SCREAM! GO HORSE!
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