Over the last week or so, news has slowed down even more than it usually does during the offseason. With minicamps ending, there is literally nothing going on in terms of news. And if there is something going on, that’s usually a bad thing for the player/coach in the news. For example, New Orleans starting cornerback Malcolm Jenkins made the news yesterday. Why? He got schooled by a high schooler at his own camp.
In all seriousness, the less news there is right now for the Colts, other than signing their draft picks and free agents, the better. I don’t want to see what’s happened to the Lions this summer occur in Indianapolis.
That being said, I hate slow news periods. It makes journalists reach at anything for a story. Because, without doing statistical or film studies over the summer, there really is very little of substance that we can say that hasn’t already been said. It makes people go crazy.
Craziness abounds in this article by Brad Wells, and while I’d usually try to restrain myself, I’ll bite on this one.
Comparing Mewelde Moore to Joseph Addai is laughable.
A good game for Moore over the three years was playing 20 snaps, averaging about 25% of the offensive snaps from 2009-2010. Last year he never played more than 18 snaps, and averaged abou 11 per game (16% of offensive snaps). Addai, as injury prone as he could be, usually played between 45-55 snaps when healthy, and per season usually was about 60% of the snaps. Addai was a full time running back when healthy (problem was he couldn’t stay healthy), while Moore was very durable, he is a third down back AT BEST.
First round backs are not generally expected to start right away.
Brown has been a disappointment to be sure (I’m adamantly against the drafting of running backs in the first round), but saying that “First round running backs are supposed to be no-brainer starters their rookie year” is just plain wrong. Backs taken in the latter half of the first round often times are not slated to start in their rookie year. Here is a list of all 17 running backs taken in the last half of the first round in the last ten years:
Doug Martin, David Wilson, Mark Ingram, Jahvid Best, Donald Brown, Chris (Beanie) Wells, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Laurence Maroney, DeAngelo Williams, Joseph Addai, Steven Jackson, Chris Perry, Kevin Jones, Willis McGahee, Larry Johnson
Guess which ones started during their rookie year?
Willis McGahee (11 games) , Kevin Jones (14 games), Chris Johnson (14 games), and Jahvid Best (9 games)
Only four of the 17 were primary starters at any point in their rookie year, and only two of them were really feature backs right from the beginning (Jones and Johnson). Expecting backs picked in the late first round to start right away is just poor analysis. There’s no excuse for that.
Brown is a much better pass blocker than given credit for.
We’ve been over this, but Brown got a bad rap in 2011 for his pass protection. He showed marked improvement in 2011, but people are still holding on to the stereotype that, in Wells’ words: “He can’t pass block.” According to Pro Football Focus, Brown was 40th in pass blocking efficiency in 2010 (among backs with at least 35 snaps in pass protection). In 2011, he was 8th. Brown actually did very well in 2011 pass blocking, although he still can improve in reading the blitz. He’s not perfect, but he’s doing well, and it’s something that caught Coach Pagano’s eye, and something that he specifically spoke about a few weeks ago. Interestingly enough, Moore was rated one of the 15 least efficient backs in pass protection from 2008-2011.
Brown is a fairly efficient receiver.
This has generally been one of the accepted positives about Brown, that he can succeed with the ball in open space. With Manning throwing him the ball, Brown had incredibly high DVOA rates, and averaged over nine yards per reception after the catch. Wells called him an “unreliable receiver.” I’m not sure where that came from. He’s dropped four balls in the last three years, just one in 2011. I would love to see Luck use Brown more out of the backfield.
Brown doesn’t need a fullback to succeed.
To Wells’ credit, he doesn’t exactly say that Brown needs a fullback, instead sticking with a very generic criticism: “He only runs well in a specific blocking scheme and style.” Of course, Wells doesn’t elaborate on that, but I’d assume he means behind a fullback, which is the general statement that’s been made about Brown. While I think using a fullback periodically would help the offense, saying Brown only runs well behind a fullback is again, wrong. Brown rushed for 4.66 yards per carry behind a fullback during the three game study I did last month, while averaging 4.8 yards per carry on the season. He doesn’t need a fullback.
You can’t say coaches’ praise is good sometimes, but bad other times.
Wells makes the point that Colts’ coaches have been “talking up” Brown a lot this offseason, proving that they’re trying to sell him: “Players who are truly good don’t need to be talked up to the media or the fans. Usually, if a player is being talked up in the offseason, something is going on behind-the-scenes.” Of course, Wells doesn’t use this logic when reporting that the Colts’ coaches are talking up Vick Ballard, Jabin Sambrano, or Andrew Luck. Just one day after this article was written, Wells wrote how it was a bad sign that Jerry Hughes hadn’t been praised much by Coach Pagano. Does “talking a player up” happen in the NFL? Of course. But you can’t apply blanket statements to coach speak like that. Oh, and the quote Wells uses to exemplify Pagano’s “love sonnets” to Brown? It was said weeks ago at OTAs (We wrote about it then, but for some reason the rest of the media world didn’t catch wind of it until Phil Richards mentioned last week) in response to someone asking a question on Brown. It’s not like the coaches have been throwing this stuff out there unprompted.
This whole paragraph was just full of fail.
Donald Brown is NOT an every-down back. If you want an expert to give you his opinion on this subject, just go ask Peyton Manning. He did not seem to trust Brown on third down in ’09 and ’10, and for good reason. Brownwhiffs in pass protection. This is an important aspect of a back’s game today, folks. I don’t care how fast a back is, or how many yards-per-carry he has. A runner who cannot block in the modern NFL is as useful as a wideout who cannot catch.
Peyton Manning didn’t seem to have a problem with Brown when he was cheering for him as he ran 80 yards for the game clinching touchdown last December. Brown improved by leaps and bounds last season, where Manning didn’t play. Manning’s opinion on a struggling rookie and sophomore season Brown are A. Pretty meaningless for a running back coming off his best year by far and entering his fourth and B. Unknown. Manning was certainly more familiar and trusting with Addai on third down, but Addai was fantastic on third down when healthy, and should have been trusted over a young, struggling back. Wells, and others, always point to the “God damn it Donald” YouTube clip to prove that he “whiffs” at blocks. It’s completely unrelated to the conversation. Wells then makes the ridiculous statement that running backs who can’t pass protect are as useful “as a wideout who cannot catch.” Of course, that’s extremely silly. A lot of the elite backs in the league are not very good at pass protection (Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, etc.), and you rarely hear anyone complaining about it.
Anyway, the point is that Mewelde Moore isn’t going to threaten Brown. Shoot, I’d be surprised if he threatened Carter or Ballard either. Moore has two advantages: he stays healthy and he knows Arians’ system.
Moore is here to get a few snaps in rotation if somebody gets hurt. If the Colts get that much out of him it’ll be a good sign. If they get more, it’ll be either a miracle (because Moore suddenly turned into an in-his-prime LaDanian Tomlinson) or a nightmare (because Brown turned back into rookie Donald Brown, Carter fumbles on every other carry, and Ballard quits the NFL to become a Buddhist monk).