INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 6: Delone Carter #34 of the Indianapolis Colts runs during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Falcons defeated the Colts 31-7. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Don't look now, but the Colts have a running game... If only the coaching staff would actually commit to it.
For a team typically ranked near the bottom of the league in yards per game on the ground, the Colts 100.00 yard average is a pleasant surprise in an otherwise glum season. Leading the charge is none other than former first round pick Donald Brown.
Having been written off as a bust after hardly cracking the lineup his first two seasons, Brown is making the most of his opportunities with the absence of Joseph Addai, rushing for 223 yards on 46 carries. The UCONN product has turned in a respectable 4.6 yards per carry average and is revitalizing his still young career.
Rookie Delone Carter and regular starter Joseph Addai have also been impressive running for 313 yards and a 4.0 yard average and 257 yards and a 4.4 yard average respectively.
While they aren't exactly setting the school on fire, Addai, Brown and Carter do rank 20th, 23rd and 34th respectively in yards per carry average outpacing the expectations of most critics and making the once impotent ground game the most reliable feature of the Colts' offensive attack.
The main reason for the Colts development is the improved play along the offensive line. In particular Anthony Castonzo has been crucial in getting to the second level and creating holes for the backs to run through. Even as a rookie he has added a mean streak that has helped to transform the attitude of the entire line.
With Peyton Manning out, the Colts should continue to focus on the run as it is now the strength of the once pass happy offense. If the Colts hope to win games and have any success in the 2011 season, the coaching staff must commit to the run more than 21 times a game as they did against Atlanta. Comparatively the Falcons ran the ball 41 times, not surprisingly out-gaining the Colts 163 to 83 yards on the ground.
The Colts are an offense in limbo with no identity. Caldwell would be wise to hand the reins to Addai, Carter and Brown and see if they can carry the team to a few wins. So far this year they seem more than up for the challenge when called upon.