This is a little nugget of info that got overlooked during the league meetings last week. While being interviewed during the coaches breakfast prior to the league meetings, new Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was asked about runningback Donald Brown and where he might fit in with the Colts in 2012.
Pagano responded by suggesting Brown might be the primary ball carrier for Indy in 2012:
"Donald's a real bright guy and he's got some home-run capabilities in him," Pagano said. "He's strong, he's quick to hit the hole, he puts his foot in the ground, he's decisive and all those types of things." When asked if Brown could be a 30- to 40-snap kind of player, Pagano said, "Yeah I do, and I think he'd tell you the same thing. He's more than capable of doing that, absolutely."
I'm not sure how I feel about this.
I agree with Pagano that Brown does have a "home-run" threat when it comes to running the ball. It seems that, every year, Brown has one game where he rips off a big run, getting everyone excited about how awesome he supposedly is.
Then, he follows that game up with three or four "meh" performances.
Yes, I know he averaged 4.8 yards per carry last year. If there was ever a prime example of "stats are for losers," it's Donald Brown's rushing lines. Classic example of Donald Brown play was his performance in the month of December 2011. Against the Titans in Week 15, he ran for 161 yards on just 16 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run to seal the win. However, in the two games prior to that Titans win, Brown averaged 2.9 and 3.1 yards-per-carry, respectively. In the two games after his 161 yard explosion against Tennessee, 3.2 and 3.0 yards-per-carry, respectively.
Thus, if you wanted to, you could say that over a five-game stretch, Donald Brown was averaging 4.9 yards-per-carry. Never mind that his one game against Tennessee, with a 10.1 yard-per-carry average, skewed the hell out of the statistics.
DOESN'T MATTER HE'S AWESOME! 4.9 A CARRY! MVP! MVP! MVP!
Take away that fluke performance against Tennessee, and Brown averages barely 3.0 yards-per-carry in December. Take it away entirely from his 2011 season, and he averages a putrid 3.6, which is in line with his previous season averages.
But, whatever. Doesn't matter, some say. Donald is clearly the second coming of Walter Payton! I literally had idiots tweeting me this sort of nonsense after that Titans game last year.
Brown is maddeningly inconsistent. He also struggles to pick-up blockers in pass protection, which kept him off the field in many instances because, reportedly, Peyton Manning didn't trust him. Hell, Brown didn't even play the first four weeks of the 2011 season. Like, I mean, he never carried the ball. At all! We never got a reason as to why. He's been benched seemingly a dozen times over the course of his three year career, and the Colts even went so far as to bring back Dominic Rhodes in 2010 because Brown was stinking up the backfield.
However, with Joseph Addai recently cut (and, by the looks of things, likely done with football), Brown is pretty much all we've got left. Perhaps, with a new offensive line and a coaching staff that knows what it's doing, Brown will finally shed the draft bust label that is stuck to his forehead.
Please understand, I want nothing more than for Brown to become a consistent back and finally warrant his draft stock. Bill Polian passed on Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Beanie Wells, James Laurinaitis, and Ziggy Hood to get Brown. All five players are, right now, better than Brown, and have been consistently better since the 2009 NFL Draft.
2012 is Donald's absolute last chance. He'll be out of excuses, and excuse-makers, if he doesn't pull it together this year.