The Indianapolis Colts signed Frank Gore to improve their running back position this offseason, and so far in the 2015 season he has done just that. Gore has provided a spark at the position that the Colts haven't had in quite a while, and he played a big role in helping the team get their first win of the season last week against the Titans - even getting a game ball for his efforts.
Through three games, Gore has rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries (gaining 11 first downs), averaging 4.7 yards per rush and also catching 4 passes for 12 yards. Gore hasn't received a huge workload, but he's done a lot of good things with the touches he has received. He knew coming into the season that he would be a running back in a passing offense.
On Sunday, however, he might have to be more than that: he might have to be the Colts' workhorse back. Yes, the Colts have Gore on a pitch count, but there might be times where an exception is necessary, and this Sunday is certainly an ideal time for that. The Colts will need to rely on their running back heavily.
Firstly, we don't know who will be starting at quarterback for the Colts. It still seems most likely that it will be Andrew Luck, but even then he'd be playing with an injured throwing shoulder after not throwing a lot in practice this week. And if he can't go, then it would be Matt Hasselbeck, who hasn't started a game since 2012.
Secondly, consider that one of the Colts backup running backs, Josh Robinson, was limited in practice on Wednesday with a back injury (he was a full participant on Thursday) and that the other backup, Tyler Varga, hasn't practiced yet this week due to a concussion. The Colts elevated Zurlon Tipton to the active roster from the practice squad, but that gives even more reason for Gore to be a focal point this Sunday against the Jaguars.
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wouldn't specify how the injury to Andrew Luck would affect the Colts game plan, instead saying that they come up with an opponent-specific game plan each week. "We build our game plan to attack the opponent," Hamilton said Thursday. "A big part of our strategy is based on what we do well and some of the things that they show on tape. We feel like we have a good plan for Jacksonville. They're playing pretty good football. They have a really good front seven. They played us tough last year here at home, so we know they'll be fired up and ready to go."
Hamilton knows what Gore brings to the offense, however, and knows that the Colts need to utilize him. "I think Frank Gore traditionally has been perceived as an inside the tackles, inside the box runner," he said. "What you've seen from Frank here in the past couple games is he has the ability to run the ball outside and be effective running on the perimeter. He has plenty of juice, and he can create his own yards."
That's what the Colts will need Gore to do on Sunday regardless of who starts at quarterback against the Jaguars. He should get significant opportunities and be a major factor in the offense. Could the current streak of 43 games in a row without a 100-yard rusher be coming to an end for the Colts? Hopefully, the answer is yes. And hopefully, the Colts will be able to ride Gore to a victory on Sunday - whether it's Andrew Luck or Matt Hasselbeck starting at quarterback.