Everyone Has Advice, Most of it Bad.

Fixing the Colts has become a national obsession.  Never mind that the only thing broken is the bodies of the players.  Yesterday, Cold Hard Football Facts tried to chip in with some of the worst advice I’ve ever seen:

They want the Colts to run more.

Seriously.

If there was an award for the most ill-conceived sports articles of the year, Kerry Byrne would surely win it.  Other than asking me to contribute to his site, there is no greater sign of his insanity than his article yesterday comparing the 2010 Colts to the 1970 Colts.  Let’s go through it, line by line:

He’s (Peyton Manning) struggling because his team panicked when the foundation of its ground game withered away beneath its feet. He’s struggling because he’s passing the football far too often to be healthy, turning his team into a one-dimensional version of its former juggernaut self.

The Colts ground game has been terrible for two years now.  Manning won MVP awards and took the Colts to the Super Bowl.  Moreover, the team was actually running the ball better this year than recently until everyone got hurt. To imply that the team somehow panicked is, well insane.  I can’t see any evidence for that.

The problem is not Manning’s abilities. Instead, the problems lay with poor game planning and even poorer play calling. To put it most simply, Manning and the 6-5 Colts are withering on the vine of the 2010 season because they’ve abandoned any semblance of balance on offense:
  • 11 games, 486 pass attempts (44.2 PG) and 256 rush attempts (23.4 PG)

Sh*t, we have slutty ex-girlfriends who are more balanced.

Manning averages 44.2 paser attempts per game, which puts him on pace to break the existing record of 43.2 pass attempts per game set by Drew Bledsoe with the 1994 Patriots. (That strategy didn’t work too well for New England, either. The 1994 Patriots went 10-6, scored just 21.9 PPG and were bounced by Bill Belichick and the Browns in the wildcard round.)

Again, with the poor gameplanning charge.  I’m not seeing it.  First, Kerry is assuming the Colts’ offense is struggling.  In four of the Colts five losses, they’ve scored at least 24 points.  So offense has not been what has hurt Indianapolis. Moreover, gameplanning goes out the window when you fall behind by double digits.  the Colts have trailed by at least 10 points early in three of their first five losses.  The Colts opened with a spectacular gameplan this Sunday.  They marched downfield and scored on their first drive, mixing in short passes and a few runs.  Game planning had nothing to do with Manning throwing the first pick six of the game.  It was just a bad throw and a bad decision.  He compares this team to the 1994 Pats, but the 2010 Colts are averaging better than 25 poitns a game (5th in the league).  

The 2010 Colts are on pace to score 6 points fewer than the 2009 Colts that went 14-2.  Maybe we are beating on the wrong end of the horse here.

The Colts simply need to bring some balance to their offense. They need to take the pressure off the passing game and provide some semblance of a threat on the ground, no matter how poor that threat may be. Quarterbacks simply cannot do it all alone – even a quarterback as great as Manning.

But the Colts are a terrible running team! They’re injured! They just can’t run the ball!

Yes, we understand Indy is banged up in the backfield (and everywhere else, for that matter). We understand they’re not a good running team. The Colts have rushed 256 times for 909 yards, a paltry average of 3.55 yards per attempt.

Yes, they are banged up.  They are using a fifth string running back as their #2 right now.  The Colts were running the ball just fine until they lost Joe Addai.  Colts fans cringe every time a run is called because it’s basically a wasted play.  The line is not creating holes.  Kerry recognizes that the Colts don’t run the ball well, so WHY would he advocate running it more?

Because of something that happened 40 years ago.

Back in an era when teams relied on the run more heavily than they do now, the Colts were an embarrassment. They rushed the ball 411 times in 14 games that year for 1,336 yards. That’s a pathetic average of 3.25 YPA – well below the 3.55 YPA average of the 2010 Colts.

***

Yes, the 1970 Colts had a good defense. But it was not a great defense. They ranked seventh in scoring defense (16.7 PPG) in a 26-team league.

Hmmm, so the 1970 Colts, playing in an entirely different offensive era, with a defense averaging more than 6 points a game more than the Colts, ran the ball as much as they threw it, so the 2010 Colts should run more?  The 1970 Colts averaged 22.9 PPG, good for 6th in the league.  Today, that same point output would be good for 15th.

He’s advocating that the Colts should mimic a game plan established by a 40 year old team with a touchdown a game better defense and a field goal a game WORSE offense.  I suppose if the goal was to make your offense more like a 1970s team, and cost yourself a field goal a game, Kerry would have a point.

But the reason for these struggles is not Indy’s lousy running game, as some “pundits” would lead you believe. No, the problem is simply the fact that Indy has given up on the running game.

Indy has purposely made itself one dimensional. It’s consciously made itself one dimensional. As noted above, Indy has attempted 486 passes through 11 games, and just 256 rushes.

They Colts have panicked offensively in other words, under the misguided and feeble belief that a team can win by passing alone.

There’s no evidence for any of this.  First off, the Colts have talked endlessly about improving the run game.  They just haven’t found the linemen to do it.  They invested a first round pick in a running back just a year ago.  At no point have I gotten the impression that throwing 45 times a game is a strategy.  It happens out of necessity.  

Kerry outdoes himself at the end:

As you know, we dismiss the “establish the run” advocates as ignorant oafs perpetuating fallacies. Teams win because they pass well, not because they run well. There is an incredible correlation to success when teams pass effectively. There is little to no correlation to success when teams run effectively.

However! There is a high correlation to success when teams at least attempt to run – no matter how effectively they do it. Balance helps improve the effectiveness of the passing game – and this more improved passing game is what makes it more likely you’ll win.

The 1970 Colts are a perfect case study: they were an inept running team that at least made an effort at balance … and rode that effort all the way to a Super Bowl championship.

Oh man, you didn’t make that mistake did you?  The reason that rushing attempts correlate with success is that teams that have leads run the ball to kill the clock.  Kneeling on the ball correlates real well with winning too…that doesn’t make it a strategy you employ in the first quarter.  This is football 101.  Correlation does not equal causation. 

Running more won’t help the Colts win any more game.  Winning more games will help the Colts run more.

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