This article is an opinionated one and many of you will disagree with me. Comments that have content are welcome and I encourage it. If you can’t contribute with real content, need not to comment.
If you’ve watched the Colts play this season, there’s been a huge change. The Colts are running the ball effectively. Why is this? Well it might be that Peyton Manning is injured and that our QB is Curtis Painter. No offense to Curtis Painter…but he’s Curtis Painter. Maybe it’s that our o-line has improved…well yea, but the o-line has been decimated with injuries. So why are we running the ball so well? Well Addai has the run ball about the same and Carter has run the ball about what was expected of him and he’s done just about as much as Mike Hart and Dominic Rhodes did last season. But why is Donald Brown suddenly running well? Well, I think the answer is pretty simple. Donald Brown has improved.
Stats often do lie, but not in this case. Let’s just look at average yards per carry since it is one of the most important stats of running the ball. In Browns rookie season, he played 11 games and ran for 3.6 yards/carry with 3 TDs and 1 fumble. In Brown’s sophomore season, he played 13 games and ran for 3.9 yards/carry with 2 TDs and no fumbles. Of course we all remember the Jaguars game where Brown ran for 129 yards on 4 carries averaging 9.2 yards/carry and had a long 49 yard run. Although that was a great game for Brown, it was generally a good season for Brown. Notice I said a good season for Brown, not for anyone else. He improved a lot between 2009 and 2010 as Brown had begun posting up 4.0+ yards/carry in games. Yes Brown still had games where he was running for 2.5 yards/carry, but the point is that he begun to play good games, unlike in 2009 where Brown posted up 2.0 yards/carry in just about every game.
Fast forward to this season, yea I think you can call this Brown’s breakout season. Brown has posted 4.0+ yards/carry in every game except against New Orleans. And let’s admit it, Jonathan Vilma and the rest of the NO defense shut down Indy easily, even if Adrian Peterson were on the Colts, he would’ve played a bad game. So far this season, Donald Brown hasn’t started a game yet and has averaged 4.6 yards/carry for 2 TDs and no fumbles.
Stats aside, let’s look at what Brown has done to generate those stats and improve his game. Brown is a straight runner. He’s not a dancer like Ray Rice, he’s a “give me a hole and I’ll burn you” type of runner. In the past, when the o-line couldn’t generate a hole, Brown would make bad decisions and just ram himself into the back of an offensive lineman for a 1 or 2 yard gain if he was lucky. If there was a hole, Brown would run through it and if there was a defender, Brown would put his head down and just acept the tackle. Brown seemed to have little to no ball carrier vision what-so-ever. Brown was also a terrible blocker. Not only could he not pick up blitzes, he couldn’t block the blitzes he did pickup, oh the frustration. Search “goddammit Donald” on YouTube and that sums up the whole story.
Carry over to this season, Donald is making the necessary cutbacks when there’s no hole generated by the o-line, he’s more shifty when there’s a defender in his way, and he’s picking up blitzes better and he’s better at blocking in general.
But let’s focus on what Brown has always done well. Brown is fast, not only is he fast, he has great acceleration too. He’s got the speed and acceleration to burn the fastest in the game. Along with his speed and acceleration, he’s got great ball carrier skills. And what I mean is that he can hold onto the ball, he doesn’t fumble. He can teach Carter a lesson or two about how to hold onto the ball, and I’m not bashing Carter. But the 2 fumbles that he’s given up can be prevented. Back to Brown and his ball carrier skills, he’s also been great as a receiver out of the backfield. He can catch passes and secure them quickly so that defenders won’t knock it loose. Not to mention if he’s wide open out of the backfield, we’re almost guaranteed an automatic first down.
So, what all that being said, what is the point of this article? The point is that you, the fans, should not give up Donald Brown just yet. I understand that he is a 1st round draft pick and more is expected out of him and that he has not produced a whole lot since joining this team. But he is improving at everything, he’s improving his running game and blocking game. From what I know, Donald Brown has not complained about his playing time, he hasn’t had any off field troubles, and he’s done everything that’s asked of him to the best of his abilities, Donald Brown is a team player. And I predict that Donald Brown will continue to improve throughout the rest of this season, and he will continue to work on his game and by next season, Donald Brown will be good enough to be the Colts #1 back if the fans allow him to be. Unlike Jerry Hughes, Donald Brown has improved and he has a potential future with the Colts organization, so the question comes down to, will you support him? As of last season and as of right now, I am supporting Donald Brown and will continue to support him until Brown and the Colts decide part ways.