INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich likes to use a boxing analogy when it comes to his staff’s capacity to run the ball.
“I simply suppose it is like physique blows,” Reich mentioned. “I simply suppose it is blows to the midsection. It is the fixed pounding of that. I believe it wears the opposite staff down.”
Enter operating again Marlon Mack.
Producing — and exhibiting he is a No. 1 again — is precisely what Mack did in final weekend’s wild-card playoff victory at Houston and all through the common season. He is coming off a Colts staff document of 148 yards dashing on 24 carries towards a Texans protection that had not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. Mack had runs of 29, 26 and 25 yards and a few online game-kind juke strikes towards Houston gamers who wore down the extra Mack and the remainder of the Colts’ operating backs ran by them of their 200-yard staff efficiency on the bottom.
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“He undoubtedly had the lengthy pace, however I undoubtedly noticed some make-you-miss capacity,” Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni mentioned. “It is more durable to try this if the holes aren’t massive. When I’ve seen that essentially the most is when the offensive line is basically getting motion and actually displacing the home windows there for Marlon to have some room to make some guys miss.”
The identical method the offensive line has managed to hold quarterback Andrew Luck comparatively clear this season, that group additionally has achieved an distinctive job opening up operating lanes. Ask any offensive lineman if they might fairly impose their will within the operating recreation or be on the defensive in go safety, and more than likely will say they like to run block, which fits Mack simply positive.
Operating behind the offensive line of middle Ryan Kelly, guards Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski and tackles Anthony Castonzo and Braden Smith, the Colts had three video games of least 200 yards dashing. Mack’s had 5 video games, together with the playoff recreation, of at the very least 100 yards dashing.
“It at all times begins up entrance,” Sirianni mentioned. “Like I mentioned to these guys, it was simply, ‘We journey and die with our offensive line,’ they usually have been bodily, they have been imply, they have been nasty, they knew what to do they usually began every thing out, and our tight ends blocked properly. Our receivers have been stepping into there and blocking — it actually is a full group effort while you run the ball like that.”
The opposite reality, in accordance to Mack, is he has managed to keep wholesome after injuring a hamstring within the preseason opener in August after which lacking 4 video games through the common season. He rushed for 908 yards regardless of lacking these 4 video games.
Mack additionally has proved he can do greater than use his pace to flip the nook. He is extra affected person ready for the play to develop, he can run between the tackles and he is stopped a blitzing participant with a strong block in go safety on quite a few events.
“He is actually matured as a operating again,” Luck mentioned. “He is doing the little issues rather well, whether or not it is in go safety or organising his blockers or toting the rock, caring for the soccer. He is turning into a whole again and he is operating exhausting … getting some further yards. On the finish of the sport this previous weekend, to bust a few these lengthy ones — that basically felt good. I believe it was a testomony definitely to him and in addition to the fellows up entrance blocking.”
Saturday’s playoff recreation in Kansas Metropolis (four:35 p.m. ET, NBC) screams for the Colts to run the soccer. An efficient operating recreation will hold Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the excessive-scoring offense (35.three factors) on the sidelines. The Chiefs gave up 5.zero yards a carry and 132.1 yards a recreation, which have been 31st and 27th within the NFL, respectively, through the common season.
The Colts are conscious of these stats, however they are not basing their offensive recreation plan on them.
“If it is operating it for 200 [yards] or throwing it for 400 [yards], I’m at all times going to say the identical factor,” Reich mentioned. “We try to rating each time we contact the ball, and we’re going to recreation plan and name the sport in a method to rating factors. We’re actually not attempting to suppose a lot about, ‘Properly let’s maintain the ball and hold it from them.’ We wish to run it — there isn’t any secret about that. That does hold them off the sector, that might be nice, however on the finish of the day, the first aim is rating factors.”