The Indianapolis Colts were expected to have one of the league’s best offensive lines this season, and while the unit’s pass protection has been about as good as advertised, the run blocking through the first four games of the regular season clearly has not.
Specifically, per Football Outsiders, the Colts currently have the league’s 5th best pass blocking offensive line overall but are ranked a mere 28th overall in run blocking.
Via Sharp Football, the Colts rank 9th in explosive pass rate, yet are only 26th in explosive run rate so far this season.
It’s concerning because the Colts run at the NFL’s 6th highest rate of offensive plays at 50.4%, and no matter how you slice it, the running game hasn’t quite performed up to its high expectations as the Colts currently average a league low 3.5 yards per carry:
October 5, 2020
At least publicly, the Colts aren’t concerned as offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni has said that the team’s league worst yards per carry average is a result of some QB kneels:
Nick Sirianni says he is pleased with the run blocking this season.— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) October 6, 2020
Points to 4-minute offense, kneel downs as reasons why the Colts rank last in the NFL in rushing yards per carry.
To be fair, that’s at least partially true.
Additionally, while running back Jonathan Taylor has shown some real flashes of greatness, he is still learning the position and speed of the game at the NFL level, and at times, the rookie rusher hasn’t made the correct cut which has left some yards out on the field.
The Colts have also faced some stingy front sevens—including the Chicago Bears last week.
That being said, for a Colts’ power running game that was expected to be the offense’s ‘bread-and-butter’, it’s fair to say that their unit, which was ranked among the league’s best ahead of the 2020 season and had all 5 starters returning (each of whom started all 16 games last season) is underachieving right now in run blocking.
Those 5 starters remain healthy, so it may be time for the Colts’ standout unit to do some serious soul searching or make some proper adjustments (maybe even in overall offensive play-calling, featuring more outside runs as opposed to inside runs).
Whatever the solution is, the run blocking has to be better in the trenches come anticipated January, colder weather football because the Colts cannot make much of a deep AFC playoff run otherwise—unless the current status quo clearly changes.