Donald Brown, a player who the Colts had little interest in utilizing as an every down back prior to the start of the 2013 season, has finally come into his own. The former 2009 first round pick out of UCONN has lived up to his draft stock.
Thou art a bust no more, Mr. Brown. If anything, you're a major reason why this Colts team is moving on in the playoffs.
Donald Brown ran for 55 yards on 11 carries in Saturday's thrilling come-from-behind victory in the Wildcard Round of the 2014 NFL Playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs. He scored two gigantic touchdowns in the game (one rushing, one receiving), and he would have likely gotten a third if he had not fumbled inside the Chiefs' three yard line with 10:45 left in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, Andrew Luck scooped up Brown's fumble and leaped into the endzone, arm extended, for the touchdown that cut K.C.'s lead 41-38 following the extra point by Adam Vinatieri.
The Colts would go on to win the game 45-44.
Brown's 4 receptions for 47 yards were also critical to the win, providing Luck with a viable dump-off option out of the backfield.
I wonder if fans remember that, back during training camp, the Colts had all but given up on Brown. For the first time in his career, Brown was relegated to special teams duty as a gunner while second-year back Vick Ballard and offseason acquisition Ahmad Bradshaw were slated to get the bulk of the carries in the Colts' new "No Coast" offense.
When Ballard went down with a knee injury during practice prior to Week 2, the Colts and general manager Ryan Grigson pulled the trigger on the now-infamous trade for Trent Richardson. That move did not communicate confidence in Brown, who would have been next in line to share carries with Bradshaw.
However, when Bradshaw was lost for the season with a neck injury following the Colts Week 3 win at San Francisco, Brown was presented with yet another chance to prove he wasn't a bust.
This time, he came through.
While Trent Richardson has struggled in Pep Hamilton's variation of the West Coast offense, Brown has found new life in it. Hamilton's utilization of Brown running out of 3-WR sets has maximized Brown's speed and home run ability more so than former coordinators Tom Moore or Bruce Arians ever could do. Brown is so dangerous running and catching passes from the shotgun that defenses almost have to account for him as much as they do for Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton.
Brown's come a long way from being a guy who was on the outside looking in at the running back position to start the season. Credit Pep Hamilton for adjusting his system to utilize Brown's talents and credit Donald himself for making the most of his opportunities in 2013.