By now you probably know the numbers: the Colts haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher in a season since 2007, and they haven’t had a 100-yard rusher in a game since 2012. One streak spans eight seasons, the other spans 50 games (56 including playoffs) - and counting.
Frank Gore’s goal in 2016 is to end both droughts.
Last year, he came close as he rushed for 967 yards - falling just 33 yards short. He also had four games in which he rushed for 83 or more yards, including a 98-yard performance in week five. It was just the second time in the last ten seasons that Gore didn’t rush for 1,000 yards, and he’s still not over it.
“I’m not over it," Gore said earlier this offseason. "I’m not going to be over it until I do it. I’ve been blessed that they kept me to get the opportunity to do it again. To go after my goals again, to be the one to get the 100 yards that they didn’t have in years. To get that 1,000-plus yards. To have the opportunity when it’s playoff time when it’s time to get down and dirty and we’ve got to run the ball when key plays happen. Now I got another opportunity to do it so from here on out I just have to start taking care of my body, eating healthy, start training to get myself ready to try to go get it.”
On top of those two Colts droughts Gore is hoping to break, he’s also got some pretty significant career milestones in sight. He currently sits at number 15 on the NFL’s all-time rushing yards list, but with just 700 yards in 2016 he could move into number eight, passing guys like Tony Dorsett, Jim Brown, Marshall Faulk, and the Colts’ all-time leading rusher Edgerrin James.
Gore, who is entering his second season with the Colts after spending a decade with the San Francisco 49ers, is aiming for those personal goals while pursuing his ultimate goal: a Super Bowl title. One thing that’s clear is that the 33-year old is the unquestioned starter at running back for Indianapolis. Age is working against him, but he still proved last year that he was at least capable of being productive, even if it was a tough year overall.
Though Gore hasn’t missed a game in five seasons (going back to 2010, an incredible number), the Colts will need to find backup backs to complement the veteran. In that regard, the position is much more up in the air. The team added Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman in free agency, and both of them will make a strong push for the backup spot. Tyler Varga, who impressed enough as an undrafted rookie to make the roster, is back after a season-ending concussion last year, while Trey Williams is back after being signed late in the year by the Colts last season. Lastly, there’s undrafted rookie Josh Ferguson out of Illinois, who impressed in college and who has certainly impressed the Colts so far too.
The Colts need to find a change-of-pace back to help take some of the load off of Frank Gore, and they have several underrated candidates to do so. It will be a battle worth watching in training camp and preseason, but I think Josh Ferguson in particular is a guy to watch when it comes to that number two back role (I think he’s got as good of a chance as anyone at winning it).
Though the running back position has been consistently devalued in today’s NFL, it’s still important, and the Colts have a good veteran in Frank Gore. The key will be the depth behind him, and there’s reason for optimism with their depth backs as well.