The Indianapolis Colts were way ahead of schedule in their rebuilding efforts in 2012. After going 2-14 in 2011 and getting rid of nearly every superstar that made the Colts who they were, no one expected them to do much last season. Most experts picked them to finish near the bottom in the league and would be picking in the top five of this April’s draft.
With them exceeding expectations with a new team and coaching staff and making the playoffs after an 11-5 season was remarkable. That helped them win many end of the season awards including Ryan Grigson named GM of the year and Bruce Arians coach of the year.
Most will point to those two, Chuck Pagano or Andrew Luck as the biggest keys to the quick turnaround. That may be true, but the running backs performance in 2012 may help this team get to the Super Bowl quicker than expected.
Think about it, the Colts had to spend their top pick in 1999 the year after getting Peyton Manning with the top pick in the 1998 draft on Edgerrin James. They had to solidify the backfield and become the next big star. That obviously worked, but now with the success of Vick Ballard, Delone Carter and Donald Brown last season they won’t need to draft a running back with a early pick this year.
Many thought all of last offseason and through the first few months of this year that the next Colts starting running back wasn’t on this team yet. Ballard, thrived when Brown got hurt in October and ended up looking like the biggest steal of the Colts’ draft. He ended up rushing for 814 yards on 211 carries but didn’t get going on a full load until two months into the season. Imagine what he would have done starting an entire 16-game season.
Then, when Carter was relied on to be the goalline back or short yardage guy as he filled in nicely with that role. Carter, was the Colts’ pick in 2011 to be the next starter behind Brown. His new role gives the Colts two very solid backs filling every role in the running game for the future.
All of this means the Colts won’t need to spend one of their picks in the next few drafts on a back and could use it for other areas of concern. Ballard has the capability of being a Pro Bowl running back and could be the key to Colts’ success.
The 2012 draft was full of gems for Indianapolis and the running back situation was honestly the biggest help.