Frank Reich Pointing To Past Playoff Success For Major Run Game Emphasis


Frank Reich Pointing To Past Playoff Success For Major Run Game Emphasis

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Frank Reich Pointing To Past Playoff Success For Major Run Game Emphasis

Frank Reich knows there are some numbers that tell otherwise, but why does the head coach believe that a committed approach to improving the run game is the path to go down for the 2019 Colts?

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INDIANAPOLISFrank Reich knows what some analytics say about emphasizing the run game too much.


Many believe that ramping up the carries doesn’t necessarily lead to an uptick in success when it comes to play action or the passing game.


But Reich points to relatively basic running game stats that show if a team ranks high in attempts, and rushing yards in a season, you have a better chance at delaying your off-season vacation.


“I agree that there are numbers out there that would suggest what you’re saying is true,” Reich says of the opposing view. “I’ve had people talk to me about those numbers in the past. But also there are certain numbers I look at that say that that’s not true. So I am not discrediting some of that information out there, I get it. I am looking at a different set of data and the set of data that I am looking at says that is what we need to do.


“The predominant one that I’ve looked at is when you look at the final four teams who are in the stretch at the very end, they are typically top-five rushing teams.”


Over the last 5-10 years, the numbers that Reich points to as reasons why the run game is such a focus are pretty clear:


Teams that finish seasons ranked in the top 5 of rushing yards and/or rushing attempts have a much better chance to make the playoffs, and go on deeper playoff runs, than those that aren’t ranked so high.


Now, the NFL game has changed a lot since a decade ago, with the passing aspect of things seemingly becoming more and more the way of how teams want to move the football.


Still, Reich is steadfast in believing that if the Colts can improve on their numbers from last year (17th in rushing attempts, 20th in rushing yards), that will offer them a better chance to extend their season.


The Colts carried out Reich’s belief, minus earning the win, in Sunday’s season opener.


After a sluggish first half on the ground, the Colts stayed committed and it paid off.


They finished the afternoon with 203 rushing yards (2nd in the NFL in Week One) on 33 carries (3rd in the NFL in Week One). Considering the Colts lost their opener, these numbers did not come from teams like Baltimore and Minnesota piling up big days on the ground while capping runaway victories.


Marlon Mack’s 25 carries for 174 yards easily topped the rest of the NFL in Week One.


Personnel wise, the Colts haven’t made significant changes to what the Colts will be using in 2019.


The same starting offensive line returns intact. The 4 running backs who ended last season on the 53-man roster are the same 4 guys beginning this season on the roster.


But the quarterback has changed, and that’s very important for the run game in a Reich-offense.


“Part of I think the strength of our system is we empower players and it starts with the quarterback,” Reich says. “He has to have the mastery of the offense. He has to know the run game. We teach the run game. And the quarterbacks have to know the why behind why are we running a run play? Not just throw the football. Because we feel like there’s 5 or 7 runs in a game that we call, that the defense might not be the best look and you got to get us out. And if you don’t understand what that looks like and why we are asking you to do what you’re doing, then you are not going to put the team in the best position and we need you to put us in the best position to win games. That’s required. Then when it comes to protections, it’s the same way. Our center handles a lot of it, but ultimately the quarterback has the last say. He has the trump card. He sees it all. You have to be a master at protections. Jacoby has worked very hard at it and he has become that.”


Brissett will now carry more responsibility into trying to carry out what his head coach laid out much earlier this offseason.


“What I’ve expressed to Chris (Ballard) is if we are going to be a championship football team, we need to be able to run the football,” Reich said back at the Combine. “We need to be old school in that regard because when we can do that, our play-action game can be dynamic. We are making huge chunk plays down the field off the play action pass. And, yeah, oh by the way, when we can run it, all of a sudden we can become the best in the league in the red zone because we have that element to the offense.”


“We have to run the ball better than we did.”


After Week One, that job was largely accomplished.

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