Tale of the Tape: Running Backs Run Well


In the second installment of "Tale of the Tape," we're taking a look at the Colts' Week Four loss at Tampa Bay. In another hard-fought game, the Colts again came up just short against the Bucs after leading the game early on.

Of course, we all miss something at first glance, so reviewing the game after a few days is always helpful. It was painful watching the Colts offensive and defensive lines collapse in a burning pile of injuries again, but there were some good things that came out of the viewing. There was a lot of notes this week though, so we'll break it down into several posts.

First, last week we had a tribute to Pat Angerer's tremendous play, this week's spot is reserved for Joseph Addai.

After all the flak Addai has gotten over his career with the Colts, he deserves a big "Thank You" from Colts fans. Addai is running better than ever, and in my opinion, there are precious few backs in the league right now who I'd rather have on this team.

No, I'm not kidding. Addai's running hard through holes that aren't even there, making something out of nothing on every other running play.

Addai had multiple plays where he should have been down in the backfield, but made a six to eight yard gain out of the play. Aside from the one missed block, which led to a sack/fumble, Addai was once again brilliant picking up the blitz. Overall, another great game from Addai, even behind a makeshift line.

While we're on the topic of running backs, Nate Dunlevy made the point yesterday that Delone Carter wasn't playing well, and that Donald Brown would be just as good, if not better. I have to respectively disagree. The biggest drawback to Brown, especially in his first couple years, is that he was far too indecisive. He danced behind the line, and would never just hit the line to grind out a couple of yards.

Carter, on the other hand played well, by my estimation. He was hitting the line, he was falling forward with the ball, churning his legs, and getting positive yards. Here's a play-by-play on Carter's seven runs on the night:

  • Two yard run on 2nd and ten (11:17 left in 1st): Carter hits the hole, which closes quickly due to Mike Pollak and Jeff Linkenbach losing their blocks.
  • 13 yard run on 1st and ten (5:47 left in 1st): Gerald McCoy gets penetration, but Carter avoids him and hits the right gaps for a first down and more.
  •  3 1/2 yard run on 2nd and ten (4:59 left in 1st): Painter fell as he tried to hand off the ball; Carter churns the pile forward for a few, but should have bounced outside on this one.
  • No gain on first and 10 (3:49 left in 2nd): Seems like every single Buc penetrated on this play, and Linkenbach and Pollak both pushed back. Carter tried to get outside, but Colts couldn't set the edge.
  • -4 yard run on 2nd and 10 (3:06 in 2nd): Colts try to run to the right side again, this time with Clark blocking. Clark and Pollak both get blown up, and Carter is hit as soon as he receives the hand off.
  • 6 yard run on first and ten (15:00 in 4th): Carter breaks a tackle, spins out of another, and falls forward for a tough six yards.
  • 1 yard run on first and ten (13:11 left): No hole opens up, Carter hits line for a yard.

I disagree very much that Carter was awful. He's a rookie running back in his fourth game. Last night the OL played much worse than in the first three games. Carter fought for tough yards and only had 7 carries all game. I'd rather give him time and experience to develop now than Brown.

That being said, I still stick with what I've said: Brown has gotten a bad rap, and the Colts should try to get him in the game more. The offensive line took a big step back last night, especially Mike Pollak. After looking good against the Steelers last week, Pollak had no answer for Buccaneers' DT Gerald McCoy, especially in run blocking. Jeff Linkenbach had a bad game too, and the Colts continue the senseless tactic of running behind Dallas Clark, and singling him on a defensive linemen. Despite the struggles on the line, the backs ran fairly well, although they only ended with a 3.4 YPC.

The beat up OL will need to be better if the Colts are going to win games, as Painter will need support from the run game in order to succeed.

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.