To put it bluntly, the Indianapolis Colts running game is absolute garbage right now. And it doesn’t matter where you look, or what analysis you choose to roll with either.
The Colts are 27th according to Football Outsiders, 27th in yards per carry (3.0 ypc), and their efficiency is even worse when looking solely at their running backs (2.76 ypc). Additionally, they’re 25th in rush yards per game.
It’s just plain ole ugly, and there aren’t any signs of it getting any better with Frank Gore, Robert Turbin and Matt Jones carrying the load. None of them have true game-breaking ability and right now, that is exactly what the Colts need.
The Colts offense has built average halftime leads of 8.7 points over the past three weeks, yet have only one win to show for it. Why? A large part of the blame goes on the lack of any substantive running game, or any sort of real production from the running backs in any form.
The unit has caught 10 of their 13 passing targets to this point, at an 8.2 yards per reception average. The desperate need for Marlon Mack to get healthy and immediately contribute is perhaps more evident than ever. Mack is putting up 16 yards per target as a receiver, but his rushing numbers haven’t been jumping off the page.
You can see, both, his electric possibilities and his frustrations behind this line in his numbers. Mack has a long run of 24 yards, yet he’s only amassed 21 total rushing yards, averaging 1.3 yards per carry on 16 rushes. Wrap that around your dome.
This offensive line has some very real issues right now, but with Ryan Kelly on the mend and likely making his way back within the next two games, that’ll go a long way towards helping the situation. Jeremy Vujnovich has struggled in every aspect, but especially run blocking, and before Deyshawn Bond was sidelined in Week 4, he was having a rough go at it as well.
Kelly’s return will not only help the center position for obvious reasons, but Kelly will give Vujnovich some serious help, sandwiching him with Anthony Castonzo. But, like with most of the players who are currently out on the Colts, a few more healthy bodies could have a legitimate impact on how the Colts look going forward.
Denzelle Good is one in particular. Having Kellly back, Good at right tackle — presumably — and Haeg at left guard it puts the Colts line back into a more conducive arena for success. Getting Mack into the backfield, and using him as a target similarly to how the Colts have used Gore — in the screen game — could do wonders for this stammering offense.
Of course he has to get healthy — like 100 percent healthy — and he has to get more than 9 opportunities per game to make a play. Gore is touching the ball nearly 17 times per game, while Turbin is getting less than 5 touches per outing, and you’d like to think Mack will starting getting opportunities with a little more regularity. Not because of his numbers, but because of his potential to put points on the board every time he touches the pigskin.
The Colts need another avenue to keep the chains moving out of the backfield, while also being a big-hitter to keep defenses honest. Mack is that guy, and the Colts are ready for him to return in a big way.