Colts explain why they didn’t run the ball much against the Jaguars

Despite having arguably the best backfield in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts didn’t run the ball much against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Here’s why.
Indianapolis Colts v Jacksonville Jaguars
Indianapolis Colts v Jacksonville Jaguars / Mike Carlson/GettyImages

The Indianapolis Colts entered the Week 6 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with two elite running backs in the backfield and their backup quarterback starting. You’d think with those circumstances, the plan for Indianapolis would be to run the ball, and let the offense develop off of the run game. However, the opposite took place in Sunday’s loss.

The game finished with Gardner Minshew throwing the ball 55 times, being sacked an additional three times, and Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss getting a combined 15 carries. The Colts lost 37-20, and for the first time in his head coaching career, Shane Steichen was questioned by fans. Everyone wanted to know why Steichen and Indianapolis didn’t try to establish the run game.

Following the game, center Ryan Kelly provided some clarity on Indy’s offensive game plan. Kelly explained to the media that the Jaguars stayed in their base defense regardless of how the Colts came out. This led to Indy passing the ball, hoping that some completions would force Jacksonville to give a different look. However, even after Indy drove down the field on the opening drive with quick passes, the Jaguars stayed committed, and Indy stayed away from the run.

Jaguars took away Colts run game with base defense

Offenses typically attack the weaknesses of the looks they’re being presented, however, it’s a bit problematic to allow a team to force you away from your strength without ever trying to establish it. The Colts came out passing the ball; they essentially forfeited running the ball based on the look that Jacksonville gave them.

On the opening drive, Indy passed the ball the first four plays. Of the 16 plays in the opening drive, just four were runs. The first was a Jonathan Taylor carry for four yards, the second was a Zack Moss run for no gain. Zack Moss took the third carry for no gain, then Indy returned to Taylor, and he got his second carry, and ran for five yards. So on Indy’s first four rushes, the team gained nine yards, which all belonged to Taylor on just two carreis.

That’s not discouraging at all, and definitely not a reason to go away from the run. The Colts should’ve challenged Jacksonville’s front and made the Jaguars prove that all the bodies in the box could actually stop the run. Instead, Indy did exactly what Jacksonville wanted, and tried a quick passing game.

The Colts are a running offense, at least they should be. That’s the strength of the team. That means Indianapolis will see a ton of looks from opposing defenses that invites Indy to throw the ball. Yes, the Colts should have a sense of balance and be able to pass when they need to, but they should also be able to run the ball when the defense is expecting it, and committed to stopping it, as well. Indy can’t just willing accept a defense’s suggestion to pass the ball, or Gardner Minshew will be dropping back 60 times a game every Sunday, and the Colts will have many more games that looked like the loss to the Jaguars.