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Tale of the Tape: Colts Rookie RB Marlon Mack Week One v Rams

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Rams Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Week one for the Colts went about as bad as you could have imagined. The good thing is that there were some bright spots, and one of those was rookie running back Marlon Mack. I decided that in the interest of my sanity, I would break down some film on him, rather than analyze all the other awfulness that took place Sunday.

Mack played 17 offensive snaps, and we are going to go through a bunch of them. Here goes:

Mack’s first play was a good one. He releases out to the flat and makes what is an underappreciated catch. Tolzien throws the ball behind him and Mack makes the adjustment. I watched a ton of players throughout the league take their eyes off the ball and try to start running before they made the catch. Mack doesn’t do that here and takes the catch and run for what should’ve been a touchdown. Thanks, Chuck.

It is hardly Mack’s fault that Pagano made a terrible call, but that left him in as the short yardage back instead of Turbin. He gets absolutely no running lane and is stopped for a loss of 1. Funny enough, the word on Mack coming out was his tendency to bounce outside, and as with this play, we have seen him willing to stay inside and with his blockers.

This play was not very Good. Sorry, bad pun. But seriously, this one is totally blown up by Denzelle Good appearing to forget where he is. He lets Michael Brockers blow right by him untouched and Brockers stops Mack for a loss. If Good gets that assignment, Mack is in easily for six points. The entire goal line stand is not something the Colts have done well, but not getting Turbin in was a huge miss on the part of the coaching staff.

On this series Joe Haeg gets manhandled by the Rams’ rookie Tanzel Smart, who sheds him and breaks up the play. Mack tried to elude him but Alec Ogletree was right there if he had managed to do so. This one was going nowhere.

This time Mack gets the call and the whole right side of the offensive line gets beat in their one-on-one matchups. With nowhere to go Mack bounces outside and breaks free of a tackle before being taken down by the corner. Moncrief totally whiffed on blocking his man, which is not a good look for the guy who is supposed to be your physical receiver.

This is the kind of play you want to see from Mack in pass protection. While Vujnovich and Castonzo get beat by their men, Mack comes up and absolutely lights up linebacker Mark Barron. His technique was not amazing, but the willingness to lay a hit and the effectiveness of that hit is obvious. This kind of thing is going to go a long way to determine how much production Mack can have in his career.

On this play deep in the Colts own territory Mack gets the call and again doesn’t have a huge hole to work with. The main issue on this one though is that rather than take the small crease that is there, Mack tries to bounce it to the outside, and the Rams do a good job of keeping contain. This forces Mack back inside and by that time, any hole that was there has evaporated. I’ll admit there wasn’t much to work with, but a more decisive downhill cut and this might have been 5-6 yards. That said, he still manages to drive forward for 3 where there was almost nothing there.

Rams rookie Samson Ebukam puts a clown suit on Brandon Williams and nearly gets to Mack before the handoff is completed. This pushes Mack inside and he cuts it back to the left where there is nowhere to go. This is frustrating because Williams is supposed to be the tight end who is the better blocker, at least hypothetically. The rest of the blocking on this play isn’t bad, so if he doesn’t get beat this might be a big play.

Amazingly, when the Colts block well, they have success running the ball. Who knew? On this one, the design is to the outside, and Moncrief comes up and makes a great block to seal the edge and get Mack out in space. He breaks a tackle and takes it for a big gain. If the Colts can get more consistent blocking there is plenty of reason to believe we will see a lot of this kind of thing.

Mack’s *first touchdown in the NFL comes on a three yard run between Mewhort and Good who both do a great job of opening up a gap and getting Mack into the end zone with ease.

Mack’s worst play of the game came late and deep in Colts territory, a place they spent a great deal of time. He got stood up on the play with nowhere to go and had the ball ripped out of his hands resulting in a safety. This just cannot happen.

There wasn’t much there, and the fact that he didn’t get any gain is not really on him, but you have to secure the football. Mack fumbled a lot in college and this is not a trend he can continue to be successful in the NFL.

Here Mack gets the handoff and goes right up the middle for 6 yards. Since I ridiculed him earlier, I’ll point out that Brandon Williams does a nice job giving Mack some room with a good block and Denzelle Good puts his man on skates. If the Colts can consistently get blocking like this, Gore, Turbin, and Mack can run the ball all day long.

Third and medium gives us another shot to look at Mack as a pass blocker. He squares up to the linebacker and blocks him well. So far I haven’t seen him totally blow a blocking assignment when he has been in. That continues to be a source of encouragement for his future development.

All told, Mack looks like the kind of guy the Colts could use more and more as the season goes on. Like you would expect with any rookie there are some areas for improvement, and the Colts don’t have to lean on him for production early. However, the threat of his big-play potential, like that for Hilton, gives the Colts a dimension on offense they have not had in a long time. When you put that together with a healthy Andrew Luck, whenever that happens, this offense could be something special.