There has been a lot of talk recently about the Colts' new offense under coordinator Pep Hamilton. A lot of that talk has centered around the team's emphasis on the run game. It has been a team wide approach, as Chuck Pagano and Greg Manusky have also placed a priority on stopping the run. But that's not what has gotten fans talking - it's the offense's interest in running the football that is really getting the attention.
Why? A certain quarterback named Andrew Luck probably has a lot to do with that. Luck is an incredible talent, fans reason, so why should he just be handing it off all of the time? Well, in the words of the quarterback himself, "everyone is buying into that approach and that's really going to help the passing game."
Pep Hamilton also explained it further during this morning's media availability, as a lot of the questions directed at the offensive coordinator were about that run game. He made it clear once again that the team is going to do whatever it takes to win ball games - if that means run, then they're going to run, and if that means pass, then they're going to pass. He mentioned that the main thing is maintaing balance within the offense and that it's important to create a certain mindset within the team as to the physicality and approach. That's a big reason for all the talk about running the football.
Hamilton added that he spent a lot of the offseason looking at other teams, in particular the two Super Bowl teams from last year, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. Hamilton mentioned how both of them are physical teams who play smash mouth football. He also talked about how Jim Harbaugh, the current 49ers head coach who previously hired Hamilton at Stanford, has a good grasp of how football and offense works.
There's no doubt that the team has every intention on being a good running football team. If they didn't, they wouldn't have signed Ahmad Bradshaw. They've added a fullback in Stanley Havili (two, actually, although Dan Moore is injured) and they run a two tight end base offense, with Dwayne Allen emerging as one of the league's best tight ends (especially at blocking).
All of that said, it's no reason at all to freak out or anything. Look, first of all, if the team has success running the football and wins games that way, then who cares. It doesn't matter how they win as long as they do, which is echoing what Hamilton said earlier today. But since most people fear that they won't be able to well enough, it has become an issue. Nope. Not really. If you remember, the coaching staff (albeit with a different offensive coordinator in Bruce Arians) said the same thing last year about wanting to be a running football team - and Andrew Luck ended up dropping back 730 times, the third most of any quarterback in NFL history. On the other side, the team had 440 carries between 10 players last year - and the thing is, 62 of them came from Luck himself. It wasn't a run-based offense at all, it was a pass based offense.
Of course, that was a completely different offense, and Hamilton does indeed run more of a run-oriented offense than Bruce Arians does. But look at Luck's senior season at Stanford playing under Pep Hamilton and he threw 404 passes - that's in 13 games. That projects out to roughly 497 attempts over 16 games - and NFL season. That's still a good amount of passes, and if the Colts' running game can produce like Luck's Stanford offense did, it would be completely fine with me and also would create more plays for the passing game.
And honestly, here's the bottom line: the Colts will be passing the football. The team will go as far as Andrew Luck takes them. It doesn't matter how much they want to talk about running the ball, they will be a passing team. If Hamilton is really serious about doing whatever it takes to win games (and why wouldn't he be?) the Colts will be a passing team.
Pep Hamilton said that "we expect [the run game] to hurt our opponents more than it hurts us." The only way that won't happen is if the carries prevent Luck from getting opportunities. And no matter who is running the offense, that won't happen.
All this talk about the run game? Sure, it's something to talk about, but nothing to worry about.