Colts rushing attack looking good

Kenton Keith, Joseph Addai, and the rest of the Colts rushing attack are making people pay for playing soft Cover 2.
One of the major upgrades between last year's team and this year's (other than the improved defense) is the running game. The Colts have played three very good run defenses in five games, and yet this team is still averaging 4.5 yards a carry and 8 rushing TDs. Against Tennessee's really tough defensive front, Joseph Addai and the ground attack managed to carved out some tough yards. Improved play on short yardage and goal line is also very noticeable. When the Colts need a yard, they get it. In years past, that wasn't always so. The Sporting News' Greg Cosell elaborates on the Colts strong running game (and yes, Greg is indeed related to Howard Cosell):
Through their first five games of 2007, Indianapolis has had 29 scoring drives out of 50 offensive possessions. On those 29 drives, the play-call breakdown has mapped out this way: 116 called passes, 108 called runs. Those 108 runs averaged 5.4 yards per rush. Not only is that balance, it is execution at the highest level.

The breakdown has been even more skewed toward the run in the Colts' past three games, against Tampa Bay, Denver and Houston: 18 scoring drives, with 68 called passes and 78 called runs.

Featured back Joseph Addai gets most of the work. He is second in the league with five touchdowns and third in yards per game with 101.8. Backup Kenton Keith has two TDs and averages five yards per carry, compared to Addai's 4.8. Nice balance.

No team is more diverse in terms of run game variation. The stretch play has been viewed over the years as the staple of the Colts ground game, but it is really just one of many concepts that are used on a weekly basis.


Indeed, the Colts actually run less stretch play runs now than ever before. Edgerrin James lived by the stretch play. It suited his style, especially post knee surgery. Now, with Addai and Kenton Keith, the stretch play still works, but both these guys are also comfortable running off tackle or behind a fullback. Edge was never comfortable running behind a fullback. So, with the running backs more versatile, and with Tony Ugoh really developing into a very good run blocking tackle, the Colts are developing a running mentality.  

This is one of many improvements over years past. Last year, the running game was good... when Joseph Addai ran the ball. Dom Rhodes, who saw his first action of the season last week with the Raiders, was bad during the regular season, but turned it on big time in the post-season. This year, Addai has improved tremendously, developing into a top 5 running back; only Tomlinson, Johnson, Jackson, and maybe the Vikings' Adrian Peterson are better. And with Kenton Keith, the Colts have a nice one-two punch at RB. This was a major concern of ours heading into the season, and one of the things the Colts needed to do to repeat (I think it falls under Develop Offensive Line).

It's nice to see the running game get some notice. The Colts have really been knocking some good defenses off the line of scrimmage of late, and the backs are making great plays to gain extra yardage.

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