Indianapolis Colts should rely on run game with receiver, quarterback injuries

Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images
Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images /

The Indianapolis Colts have injuries at key offensive positions at this point in the season. It’s time for them to rely on their run game until those spots get healthy.

The injury bug has bitten the Indianapolis Colts hard at the halfway point of the 2019 NFL season, specifically on offense. Jacoby Brissett suffered an MCL sprain in last week’s loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was limited in practice during the week, and there is still no definite decision if he is going to suit up against the Miami Dolphins in Week 10.

To make matters worse, the Colts’ receiving corps has been decimated by injuries this season, and that position group has gotten thinner in the past couple of weeks.

Star receiver T.Y. Hilton is dealing with a calf injury and head coach Frank Reich said last week that Hilton’s injury is a “three to four-week injury”. Offseason acquisition Devin Funchess has been recovering from a broken collarbone he suffered in Week 1. He was placed on IR but could return this year, although he won’t be eligible to do so until Week 11.

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Meanwhile, rookie Parris Campbell suffered a fractured right hand last week against the Steelers. After having surgery on the injured hand, it is safe to say that he is out for a considerable amount of time.

With the injuries to the receiving corps mounting and Brissett’s injury in the back of their minds, the Colts should rely on their run game. Even though Zach Pascal has proven to be a reliable target, the rest of the receivers that are healthy are young and unproven. The run game has been Indy’s bread and butter this season and they need to continue this trend.

The Indianapolis Colts run game has been one of the best in the NFL this season. They rank ninth in the league in rush yards per game with 129.8.  They are fourth in rushing attempts with 30.6 and fifth in rushing first downs per game with 7.8. Behind what is widely considered to be one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Indianapolis should use that to their advantage over the next few weeks.

Running back Marlon Mack has been the workhorse for Indy, garnering 679 rush yards this season, ranking him ninth among running backs. He has struggled to rush for over 100 yards since Week 5, and the Colts as a team have rushed below their season average in two out of the last three contests.

Mack and the Colts need to get back to their formula of running the ball, and the injuries to the receiving core might be the thing that pushes them in that direction.

Brissett’s injury might also influence the Indy to ride their rushing attack a more. Any kind of knee injury is nothing to play with, and even if Brissett suits up against the Dolphins, he won’t be 100 percent. That is more of a reason to hand the ball off to Mack and the other running backs, having them carry the load offensively.

In the scenario that Brissett doesn’t play in Week 10, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer showed signs that he can be a decent game manager with his performance last week. If Hoyer does in fact play, let him rely on the run game to open up things in play action. That is likely the gameplan the Colts have in place anyway, but it needs to be emphasized.

The run game can take a good amount of pressure off Hoyer’s shoulders and that will make the game easier for him to manage. No matter who the starting quarterback is, handing off the ball is a better option than leaving it in the hands of a not 100 percent Brissett or a backup in Hoyer.

Indianapolis faces the aforementioned Dolphins this coming week. That is the perfect game to showcase their rushing attack, as the Dolphins are ranked second to last in rush yards allowed per game (150.8). Running the rock should be the first thing on Indy’s minds in Week 10, exploiting that abysmal Miami rush defense.

They face a division rival in the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11 and they rank 22nd in rush yards allowed per game (120.2). Relying on the offensive line and the run game for the next two weeks would be smart. After these two games, Hilton hopefully returns from his injury and Funchess is off IR and is back on the field to give the receiver position a needed boost. Not to mention Brissett should be considerably healthier, which means big things for the Indy passing attack.

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Injuries happen in the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts are (or have been) dealing with injuries to some of their best receivers. With Brissett’s health also in question, Indy should put these next few games on the backs of the O-line and running backs.

If the Colts can pound the ball effectively for at least the next couple of games, it gives Brissett, Hilton, and Funchess time to get healthy. They have touted the mantra “run the damn ball” all season, and now with a depleted receiving corps and a hobbled Brissett, the Colts should do just that.