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Old 01-31-2017, 08:02 AM
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sherck sherck is offline
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Default 02. State of the Colts – Running Backs

RBs on the 2017 Roster:

$03.500m cap hit / 34 years old / Frank Gore
$00.543m cap hit / 24 years old / Josh Ferguson

Yes, that is right, Colts fans. They only have two RBs currently on the roster for 2017 so there is quite a bit of work that needs to be done to this position group prior to next season.

Frank Gore

What to say about Iron Man Frank?

First NFL running back at the age of 33 or older to rush for 1,000 yards since John Riggins in 1984.

Only one of 5 men to have at least nine 1,000 yard rushing seasons (joining Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin).

Highest carry total in three seasons (263 attempts or 16.43 per game),

Bettered his per rush yardage in his 2nd year with the Colts by 0.2 yards per carry over 2015 (from 3.71 ypc to 3.90 ypc in 2016).

And, he passes the “eye test’ for effort because it appeared that he was busting his butt out there each and every play from the beginning of the season to the last quarter against JAX #2.

Over the last three games of the season (O-Lineup = Stanzo / Harrison / Kelly / Haeg / Clark), Gore was 55 carries for 235 yards or 4.27 yards per carry. In the previous 13 games, he was 208 carries for 790 yards or 3.79 yards per carry. I don’t know that I am ready to point to the O-Line as the sole source of his increase by half a yard average per carry but it was pretty apparent that he was running strong during the last part of the season.

And his increase was NOT due to the explosive MIN game. He only averaged 3.88 yards per carry against MIN and then turned around and averaged 5.54 yards per carry against OAK while again ending up with 3.88 per carry against JAX. His 100 yard game against MIN came from how many times they fed him the ball (26 times which was a season high by 4 carries) than some explosive push by the O-Line.

Regardless, Frank showed ZERO slowdown in 2016 and shows little reason why he cannot have a very similar season in 2017 with the Colts. Yes, he will be 34 years old instead of 33 years old and yes, you have to worry about him falling off a cliff, and yes, we need to have a plan in place for the long-term but keeping Frank Gore in your backfield in 2017 for both a primary runner as well as an EXAMPLE to younger backs is a no-brainer IMO.

Oh, and one more thing. Frank has now not missed a game in 5 full seasons. In the season previous to that (2011), he missed one game so he has now played in 95 of his previous 96 possible games starting at age 28.

Iron Man, indeed.

Josh Ferguson

I was prepared to be dismayed when looking at Ferguson’s stats but, GOOD GOLLY, he sucked.

20 yards on 15 rushes for the season. Let that sink in again. 1.3 yards per rush average! This is the listing of all his individual rushes during his “heavy” load portion of the season in the first five weeks:

Week 1 / -2 yards
Week 2 / +7 yards, 0 yards
Week 3 / +2 yards
Week 4 / -1 yard, 0 yards, -1 yard
Week 5 / +3 yards

That is 12 positive yards on 3 rushes and then -4 yards on 5 rushes. Thankfully, he was then not handed the ball in 9 of the next 11 contests with the two where he got a handoff (NYJ and MIN) having him go 7 carries for 12 yards (1.71 yards per carry).

Now, why management decided that he was a 3rd down “receiving” back I have no idea because as far as I can see, he was only marginable better at that then running the rock. In the first five weeks of the season:

25 targets / 19 receptions / 76.0% catch rate / 125 yards / 6.57 ypc / 5.0 yards per target. Okay, that yards per target is actually pretty solid….however, look at the trend:

Week 1 = 13.00 yards per target
Week 2 = 05.80 yards per target
Week 3 = 07.25 yards per target
Week 4 = 03.30 yards per target
Week 5 = 02.50 yards per target

Once opposing defense got to see any film on Ferguson, they recognized his reads/tells and were able to start shadowing him much more effectively in order to “shut him down” as a 3rd down RB.

Let’s compare that to a guy whom I would think most Colts fans are at least “okay” with as a backup RB and that would be Robert Turbin. Most would probably feel like he was “fine” in 2016.

47 rushes / 164 yards / 3.49 ypc
35 targets / 26 receptions / 74.3% catch rate / 179 yards / 6.88 ypc / 5.11 yards per target.

However, his “yards per target” never saw a decrease in pattern like Ferguson’s did. His yards per target over the season were: 7.50, 5.50, 19.00, 8.33, 4.33, 4.71, 11.00, 5.00 and 4.50.

In other words, I think this shows that Turbin was more “sneaky” when he was releasing into pass patterns because he ended up being more effective. The definite downward trend in Ferguson’s yards per target, to me, shows that he was being more ineffective in each successive game most likely due to opposing defenses being able to recognize easier when he was going into pass pattern and putting a hat on him.

Anyway, I may all be grasping at straws but I see nothing in Ferguson’s game that is not easily replaceable.

2017 OUTLOOK:

Obviously, something needs to happen here.

You cannot trust a 34 year old RB (even Frank Gore) to continue to be your work horse game in and game out without injury or performance drop. It MIGHT happen but if you put your reliance on that it WILL happen, then you are doomed to failure.

However, there is no one on the current roster that can spell him and carry the load in his place. Ferguson, IMO, is just a JAG (Just Another Guy) and even Turbin was solid but not special as the primary alternate.

Of course, the Colts COULD get a guy who might end up “special” in the first round of the draft since it is projected that one of either Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette might still be on the board when we pick at #14 or #15. Hoping for the “Ezekiel Elliot” effect from the injection of a young, stud RB is one way to “fix” the position group for a long, long time. Unless that guy ends up another Trent Richard……I cannot even finish typing the name. &$#* him.

There are also a lot of RBs that will go in the 2nd / 3rd / 4th rounds that are probably a cut above JAG. There are probably some free agent RBs that are a cut above JAG (Le’Veon Bell, Latavius Murray, Christine Michael, Jacquizz Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Robert Turbin, Matt Asiata, Time Hightower, LeGarrette Blount).

There is also an argument that getting that young stud in 2017 is an excellent idea because he can "learn up" behind one of the best RBs in NFL history in Frank Gore and be mentored by him before Frank rides off into the sunset. That has to count as a potential positive for getting the "stud" this season.

Lots of work needs to be done on the RB position group for 2017. If we end up changing offensive systems (which looks unlikely now), then it might also change the type of RB the Colts are looking for. Lots of unknowns.

My 2 cents is that I would like to roll with Gore, find a guy who is not a JAG as a primary backup (perhaps Turbin and, say, a 4th round draft pick) and then look to use a top draft pick on RB in 2018 with that primary backup now backing up a young stud instead of Gore. Yeah, I would love for a young kid to emulate what Gore has done his whole career but the near overwhelming call to pick Pass Rush with our #14 or #15 is too strong to pass up.

Next up, Wide Receivers.

Cheers,
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