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INDIANAPOLIS – It is the biggest focus of Frank Reich for his offense in 2019.
And it has some fans scared.
Reich wants to become a better rushing team in his second season with the Colts.
And the key word there is better, not necessarily a more frequent rushing team.
Efficiency is the name of the game, and dictating when the Colts can be a productive rushing team is the goal for Reich.
In 2018, the Colts were 17th in rushing attempts, 20th in rushing yards and 22nd in yards per carry.
The last number is the most important one to focus on because the first two largely come from how big of a 4th quarter lead you have and can then turn to your ‘jumbo package four-minute offense’ to ice the game.
Reich knows this.
He doesn’t expect his offense to deviate too much from passing the ball around 60 percent of the time and running it the other 40 percent.
“It’s probably still 60-40 but you can still be a top-five rushing team running it,” Reich says. “Maybe it’s a little bit more than 40, maybe it’s 58-42, whatever the case may be. Ultimately, we want to have more four-minute offense this year than we did last year. So that’s always a big thing about being a top-five rushing team, being more four-minute offense at the end of games. That always helps those numbers as well.”
Offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni falls in line with this thinking.
“It’s interesting, when you have leads and you are playing out in front of people and you get into those four-minute situations, that’s where your runs really start to pile up,” the young OC says. “Maybe you were 60-40 all game or you were even 65-35 all game, but then you have that lead going into the fourth quarter or that lead with four minutes left to go in the game and now those runs really catch up right there. I know we can accomplish our goals of being top-five by still passing the football. Again, when you can pass it too, they work hand-in-hand. When you can run it, they pile up in the box and now you are able to hit your chunk pass plays behind it and vice versa. When you can throw it, they are a little scared of leaving one-high safety on the field. They stay in two-high safeties and now you can run it. So it goes hand-in-hand and I think they complement each other and there has got to be that good balance.”
Of the several viral items the Colts have created this offseason, one particular hat from Quenton Nelson has made the social media rounds.
‘Run The Damn Ball’ was the lettering on a hat that Nelson rocked at a Colts Community event earlier this spring down in southern Indiana.
When Nelson heard the objective for Reich here in 2019, the mauling left guard was ecstatic.
“That fires us all up,” the All-Pro guard said.
“We put together some good games last year as an offensive line and the running backs, too, running hard and making people miss. We also had some games where we didn’t play as well as we wanted to. This year it’s all about being consistent with the run game, calling the plays and then us executing. I think bringing everyone back on the offensive line this year, having a year of experience together and a year of Coach Frank and Coach Sirianni’s offense, we are definitely going to be capable of doing that.”
The hat from Nelson is making the rounds in the Colts locker room, with Andrew Luck even wearing one this spring.
Yep, Luck is fully onboard as well.
“When you run the ball well and throw it well at the same time, it’s fun to play,” a smiling Luck says. “Things just seem to click and running the ball is the priority. It will stay the priority, and I shouldn’t just say running the ball, but running the ball effectively and running the ball positively. That is a must for us to be successful and we all know that.”