One of the big goals this season for the Indianapolis Colts is to depend less on the arm of their star quarterback, Andrew Luck, and more on their disappointing ground game, which hasn’t been able to pick itself up during the preseason so far.
The Colts did end up beating the New York Giants 20-12 in their second preseason game, but they gained only 88 yards on 33 carries, including only 22 yards on 8 carries when Luck was still in the game. That number is actually misleading, because 14 of those yards came off a scramble by Luck himself.
Luck himself felt pretty good with his performance, going 9-of-13 during his time on the field with 107 yards and two touchdown. He got into a rhythm quite quickly, but the problem was that the players with him in the backfield couldn’t catch up, while there isn’t any clear leader for the position as well.
Donald Brown carried the ball six times, finishing with 21 yards, while Vick Ballard had only 4 carries for 4 yards. The Colts have tried to balance things away from Luck through their first two preseason games (19 passing plays, 11 rushing plays), but his running backs and offensive line simply don’t seem to be ready to help their quarterback have an easier time against defenses that focus mainly on him.
Luck himself continues to look good amid all the pressure he’s getting, finding four different receivers, and looks like his connection with his top three this coming season: Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Hey. The rest? Well, the Colts still have plenty to work on, as they attempted more rushing plays than passes, but didn’t gain much on the ground.
The Colts might enjoy some help to Robert Mathis when it comes to reaching quarterbacks, with free agent signing Erik Walden having no trouble beating the tackles covering him to sack Eli Manning and finish with six tackles during his time on the field. The Colts were one of the worst teams in the NFL in hitting the quarterback, and that might be on its way to change this season.
Overall they finished with six sacks during the game (one on Eli Manning), as Caesar Rayford and Drake Nevis finished the game with two sacks, including three overall on David Carr. Rookie linebacker Bjoern Werner also made his preseason debut, looking quite comfortable with his transition from defensive line in college, getting beyond the line of scrimmage a couple of times, getting one tackle for a loss and almost recording a sack.
Coby Fleener continues to disappoint in a season that was signaled to be as somewhat of a rectifying experience after a disappointing rookie season. He left the game with a sprained knee after another performance highlighted with a big dropped pass. The Colts’ other tight end, Dwayne Allen, is also injured, leaving them with quite a lot of problems at the position they had plenty of high hopes for this season.
The Colts will once again battle the Houston Texans for the AFC South supremacy, and for a second straight season will mostly depend on the ability of Andrew Luck to overcome his team’s faults, which don’t seem to be easily fixed so far in the preseason.