On Saturday, the day before the Colts took the field for the first time in 2012 against the St. Louis Rams, I wrote an article intended to highlight the major questions surrounding the Colts' running back position. Unfortunately, it came across as a bashing of the position, and especially Donald Brown, before seeing even one game. I apologize for the error, but the position is definitely a question mark, which is what I intended to highlight. We got some answers on Sunday, and the running game was overall impressive.
I went back and watched the tape of the game to watch the run game another time. Here are some bulleted notes from my observations of the run game:
Another interesting play on the Colts' next drive was an end around fake to T.Y. Hilton and then a screen pass to Mewelde Moore for a gain of 9 yards. Nice play design.
The Colts actually had a fullback run (even though they used a tight end as a fullback). Dominique Jones got the call on 3rd and 1 from the Colts 29 and he gained 3 yards, picking up the first down.
Mewelde Moore provided good pass blocking on the drive.
Delone Carter scored a 1 yard touchdown, leaping over the top of the line for the score.
The Colts' last drive of the first half was a nice showcase for rookie back Vick Ballard. Had a nice gain of 5, then a very good run for a gain of 13. Had a quick burst and hit the hole hard. I was impressed with his decisiveness - he didn't second guess where he was going, he just hit it hard and quick. Then on a delay handoff Ballard got 9 yards, again showing off good decisiveness.
On the Colts' first drive of the 3rd quarter Dominique Jones had a nice block allowing Carter to gain 9 yards on a run (aided by a nice spin move as well).
One of the most interesting plays of the game came when T.Y. Hilton took a handoff on a reverse from Drew Stanton, quickly reversed direction and came running back towards the right side. Drew Stanton threw a nice block and Hilton picked up 9 yards. Believe it or not, after looking at the play multiple times, I actually think it was designed that way.
There was a stretch of 3 plays in a row on the Colts' second drive in the 3rd quarter which really showed off Vick Ballard's versatility. First a real tough run to gain a yard or two, then a catch out of the backfield (it was actually a nice catch - the pass was low), and then a nice block which allowed Drew Stanton to find Dominique Jones for a gain of 22.
Darren Evans got in on the action down in the red zone, but after a nice run of 6 yards he fumbled. Luckily for him, the Colts recovered. He is a guy who cannot afford to lose the ball like that, or else he will quickly lose his spot on the roster.
A Drew Stanton scramble for 6 yards down to the Rams 1 yard line actually looked like it was designed. Which would make it the first designed run by a Colts quarterback in a long, long time.
Darren Evans then finished the 13 play drive with a 1 yard touchdown run to the right side. Kyle Miller had a nice block on the play.
Deji Karim's 5 touches all came in a row, on the Colts' first drive of the fourth quarter. The first two were executed nicely with good blocking and good running by Karim (they resulted in gains of 4 and 9, respectively). The next play a rusher came around the left side unblocked and tackled Karim for a loss of one, and then the next Karim plowed forward for a gain of 2. The play after that, Chandler Harnish hit a wide open Karim in the flat for a gain of 10 yards and a first down.
The last real drive of the game for the Colts was the Darren Evans show. He got 5 carries (the Colts ran 6 plays that drive). He gained 4, 3, 2, 3, and 3 yards, respectively. The best run of those 5 was on a pitch right to Evans, where he made a nice decision and cut up the field. It only gained 3 yards, but it was a nice little run by Evans.
Overall, the Colts ran the ball 32 times and gained 116 yards (an average of 3.6 yards per carry). They scored 2 touchdowns on the ground. The Colts threw 30 passes (dropping back 33 times), compared to the 32 runs. That said, 9 of those runs came in the 4th quarter (with only 3 passes in the quarter). While Andrew Luck was in, the Colts threw the ball 16 times and ran it 8 times. One of those runs was on a quarterback scramble by Luck. Two of the 10 receptions the Colts had while Luck was in were by running backs.
Leading rusher: Vick Ballard. 6 carries, 28 yards (4.7 yards per carry). Darren Evans had the most carries (8) but second most yards (25). Evans and Delone Carter had touchdowns.
Delone Cater and Mewelde Moore both suffered rib injuries in the game. The Colts signed running back Alvester Alexander to give them time to recover without rushing them back for a meaningless preseason game.
- Donald Brown's score on Andrew Luck's first NFL pass was a nice play by Brown. Caught a screen pass and took it the rest of the way, displaying good speed. That is what he is, after all: a speed back. If Bruce Arians calls more screens this year (highly unlikely after watching the Steelers' offense under him) Brown could factor into the receiving game.
- I just have to mention the Colts' first running play of the game because of how bad it was by center Samson Satele. Was plowed straight backwards from the moment the ball was snapped and his guy easily tackled Brown for a loss of 5 yards. I didn't see any other really bad plays by Satele, however.
- The first positive gain on the ground by the Colts was, who else, Andrew Luck. The kid can do everything. In all seriousness, he had a nice 9 yard scramble (ending with a slide), but on 3rd and 15 it was not enough. At least he did not try to force a ball that would have been picked off.
- On his second carry of the game (coming in the second quarter!) Donald Brown did a nice job gaining 7 yards after the line broke down. He ran around the right tackle and was forced out of bounds, but it was a nice piece of running from Brown. That would also be his last carry of the game.
- A little later that drive, the Colts faced a 3rd and 2 from the Rams 26 yard line. Delone Carter came in (Dwayne Allen and Dominique Jones were also in the backfield) and pounded through the line for 3 yards. It was nice seeing Carter be the short yardage back we hoped he would be, if only in a preseason game.
I was really impressed with Vick Ballard from Sunday's game. He ran really well. I was also impressed with tight end Dominique Jones' contribution to the run game with his blocking (and getting a first down on a carry). Who was the person that most contributed to the run game Sunday, in your opinion? Who was the most impressive back during Sunday's game? And lastly, which running back are you most looking forward to watching in this Sunday's game against the Steelers?