Joseph Addai got beaten up pretty bad on this blog last off-season for (in my opinion) no good reason. He was wrongly blamed for the offense's inability to close out the playoff game in San Diego in the 2008 playoffs, and after the Colts took Donald Brown in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft more people thought the move was a sign Addai was on the outs.
During the 2009 season, Addai outplayed Brown. He also showed he was a bit more durable than the rookie. Brown sat out several games with various injuries. Addai started 15 games last year, rushed for 10 TDs, caught 3 more, and ran for 828 yards behind an offensive line that, quite honestly, did not do so great in the run blocking department.
If you use Pro Football Focus' system as a guide, Addai was very consistent and efficient throughout 2009. He had an overall rating of 5.6, including a 2.9 pass block rating. Compare these ratings with Vikings star runner Adrian Peterson who, despite all kinds of talent, is a wildly erratic player. Peterson's season ranking overall was 0.9.
But, despite the solid numbers, what sets Addai apart from other backs is his sense of selflessness. While other guys are more concerned with yards, touchdowns, and numbers (cough * cough * Chris Johnson), Joesph Addai is interested in just one thing: Winning.
From Colts.com, and our friend John Oehser:
As much as his versatility, Caldwell said what has made Addai valuable the past four seasons is an unusual dedication to team. Addai not only can't be measured by his statistics, Caldwell said, but he is a rare NFL player in the sense that he doesn't think much about them.
"He's very unselfish," Caldwell said. "He's a guy who cares about one thing, and that one thing is winning."
This winning attitude translates over into high stakes, big time performances. I've said this often, and I truly mean it: Joseph Addai comes to play in the big money games.
His best game of the year was the Super Bowl, where he routinely made Saints defenders look silly trying to tackle him. If you want to criticize Jim Caldwell for a coaching decision, I can see questioning him for this: On third-and-one before halftime, why have Mike Hart run? Why not have Joseph make the yard? He was running all over the Saints prior to that, averaging over 5 yards a carry against them. Two weeks prior, he averaged over 5 yards a carry against the Jets in the AFCCG.
Heading into 2010, it's nice not to have to deal with re-occurring Addai bashing. As much as I loved Edgerrin James as a Colts back, Joseph Addai has indeed replaced him both as a leader and as a player on the field. He might not have Edge's talent, but he has everything else. Hopefully, in 2010, Joseph can get more consistent run blocking in front of him, allowing him help improve this team's running game.