Peyton Manning is ready to lead the Indianapolis Colts for another run to the top of the AFC.
The key word here is run.
Sure, the Colts have arguably the best quarterback in the NFL and a pool of receivers that give defensive backs in the AFC South many sleepless nights. Trying to contain Anthony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie while Manning is passing is like trying to eat soup with a fork . . .it can be done but you usually end up looking foolish while doing it.
Where the Colts need focus is the running game. It’s no secret to their opponents either. Their running game usually seems to be a second option to Manning when he’s checking at the line. Last year, the Colts barely averaged 80 yds a game and defenders of that statistic will lay claim to how successful the Colts were in spite of that but head coach Jim Caldwell knows otherwise.
The Colts recognize their lack of running prowess as their Achilles heel. They know the success or failure of Manning’s genius at the line hinges on the threat of a running game. On the offensive line, the team has moved Tony Ugoh to OG from his normal tackle position. If OT Ryan Diem and Pro Bowl C Jeff Saturday can stay healthy, the Colts are hoping for bigger lanes for Addai to run through. Addai averaged 3.5 yds per carry last season but the revamping of the line has created an expectation of 4.5 yds per carry this season.
Defensively, the Colts are a mirror of the 2009 season. The defensive line anchors Dwight Freeney, Dan Muir, Antonio Johnson and Robert Mathis. The addition of DE Jerry Hughes and 2010 draft pick DT Ricardo Mathews should bode well for helping the line stop opposing offenses as well. The middle of the defense is looking strong again, with linebackers Gary Brackett, Philip Wheeler and Clint Session all back and relatively healthy. DB Jamie Silva is down for the season with a knee injury but the Colts have confidence in CBs Jerraud Powers, Kelvin Hayden, SS Bob Sanders and FS Antoine Bethea.
The Colts schedule this year, just like 2009, is no walk through the park. If the offense can protect Manning (and he stays healthy) and also provide some new holes for Addai to run through, the Colts should be considered a contender to climb back to the top of the AFC.
About the Author
Written by Patrick Blakeslee
I am currently a full-time student at State University of New York at Cobleskill. As a life long fan of sports, I hope to bring some research, insight and knowledge to the readers.