The Indianapolis Colts were arguably the biggest surprise and best story of the 2012 NFL season. After an abysmal season in 2011, they selected Andrew Luck with the number one overall pick and were inspired by their head coach, Chuck Pagano, as they continually found success in the regular season and unexpectedly made the playoffs.
Now the Colts are looking to build off of that success and try and get back to the postseason for the second straight year, as well as try and get out of the first round of the playoffs this season. They are obviously going to look for Luck to continue developing at a fast rate, but they are also going to have to evolve as a team with their concepts and scheme, particularly with their attitudes toward the running game.
In 2012, the Colts were heavy on the pass, throwing 627 pass attempts to just 440 rushing attempts. However, their biggest issue in the running game was the fact that they could never really decide on a featured back between Donald Brown and Vick Ballard, who both started their share of games. Ballard ended up with the job at the end of the season and will likely be the number one back come the start of the 2013 season.
Ballard showed great promise as a rookie last season, despite getting just 211 carries. He rushed for 814 yards and two touchdowns, even though he only started a little over half the Colts’ games. Indianapolis will be expecting more of him if they make him the number one back. In fact, they should expect him to be their first 1,000-yard rushed since Joseph Addai in 2007.
Ballard has showed decent speed and above-average athleticism in his brief time in the league. He has the burst to get to and get through holes and can make defenders miss. He’s not going to be Adrian Peterson or anything, but he can be effective enough to open up the field for Luck in the passing game by giving them a running threat. If Ballard succeeds, expect the Colts and Luck to be back in the playoffs once again.