Saturday night in Dallas the Indianapolis Colts got a glimpse of what they hope to be the norm from the running back position for years to come. Rookie Marlon Mack took to the field and racked up 59 yards in 7 touches in his NFL debut, with 45 yards of that coming on the ground on 5 carries.
Mack had some really promising carries that showed off his skill set, which forced his teammates and coaches alike to take notice of some potentially special qualities. Mack showed off his speed, ability to change direction swiftly and to make defender’s miss.
One play in particular was his 23-yard run where you can clearly see his explosion to the hole, his making a linebacker miss in the hole, then he gets back up to speed, breaks a couple tackles and carries the final defender for a few more yards.
Power and speed? Yes, please!
One can argue that the above example was just his athletic ability showing itself and he’d have to do more against a first-team defense. It’s not just his athleticism though. Below he shows tremendous patience as well. Mack waits for Darrell Daniels to secure his block, then he explodes through the hole taking what the defense gives him and making the best out of it.
Mack is really hard not to get excited about even with such a small sample size. But, it’s easy to drink the Kool-Aid when it’s the traits, natural vision and raw ability all wrapped up into one back. We may not have the next David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell, but it sure appears that we may have something better than what we’ve seen in quite a while.
I mean, he’s not too proud to protect, and he’s just so smooth in the crease once he gets up to speed. It’s just so fun to watch. Mack could be a real weapon in the screen game as well, as you can imagine. If he can make a guy miss that bad within the hole, imagine what he could do with open field opportunities – big things could happen for this Colts’ offense in a hurry.
When Andrew Luck comes back to use him out of the backfield the excitement could reach a peak. Just have the ability to use him in the passing game at all, or even in bad situations with Luck’s ability to extend plays, and Mack there to help him when he dumps it off.. Gimme that all day.
Mack doesn’t appear to be much of a guy who cares what the perception of him is though. He made it very clear that all he wants to do is play and help the team.
“I don’t feel like I bring anything to the offense. I’m just here, another running back, just doing my thing, showing my speed and doing what I can do in the backfield…I don’t know, I’ll just leave it up to y’all to say what I bring.”
I can’t say that this surprises me either, but then again, maybe I am. A rookie who is getting his first real action in the NFL, yet doesn’t want to toot his own horn – not even a little. I like that. He’s a rookie at a position that doesn’t typically last long in the league and just wants to make the most of it while he has the opportunity.
Additionally, he’s mature enough not to fall into the ‘who do you model your game after’ trope.
“I just try to do me. Everybody you look at is different, so I just try to do me and run hard. Everybody is great in the league. You’re in the league for a reason. Everybody has a special talent. So, I just try to do what I do.”
Why do I like that, and why do I think it’s mature? Because he’s not giving us, or any other national platform the ability to fry him over whatever comparison he makes for himself. We constantly love to compare players, and so does everyone else on every level. But, now he doesn’t add any extra pressure onto himself and he can just go out on the field and play hard. I also like that he’s not kissing up to any of the veteran backs in the league, he’s here to make his own path.
Look, I know it’s just the second preseason game of the year, and Mack’s first outing in the league, but there was very little about what Mack put on the field the other night that looks like a one-time occurrence. His future looks very bright, and the Colts may just finally have a capable young back for the future.