The Indianapolis Colts’ running game is straightforward but varied.

The Indianapolis Colts’ running game is straightforward but varied.

 

Recently, the Colts have been running the ball effectively.

In recent weeks, the Indianapolis Colts’ rushing attack has been moving at a blistering pace.
The team has rushed for 622 yards on 128 attempts since Zack Moss returned in week two.
Over the course of that month, that translates to an average of 155.5 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry.

The Colts’ run game has recently been gaining steam for a variety of reasons.
Zack Moss has excelled at gaining yards, and the Colts’ offensive line is playing at a nearly dominant level again despite injuries. The scheme/design of the entire formula is what I find most intriguing.

I’m not exactly sure who the Colts’ run game strategy is most to blame. I can say with great confidence that the Colts running game closely resembles what worked with the Philadelphia Eagles last season, regardless of whether RB Coach DeAndre Smith and OL Coach Tony Sporano Jr. have been leading that charge or if Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter is putting a lot of emphasis on that aspect of the offense.

Therefore, today I’m going to break down the Colts’ rushing attack piece by piece for you all to see what the Colts hope to achieve on the ground.

Inside Zone’s staples.

The Colts’ rushing attack is overly dependent on a select few run designs, which makes it simplistic. The run game’s fundamental tenet is the numbers advantage because the Colts almost exclusively play out of the shotgun.

When an offense is set up in the gun, the load on the box is typically reduced, and the inside linemen have the best chance of blocking.
The core idea behind spreading a defense out is to clear out the wreckage inside.
Obviously, this can have a bad effect when one blocker misses an assignment and there aren’t enough extra bodies to clean up the mess.

So, the inside zone and split zone are the Colts’ two go-to inside run strategies, on which they heavily rely to succeed.
The run design, which begins with inside zone, is the most straightforward there is.
A gap is made behind the offensive linemen blocking the running back’s path by taking an inside hand-off and pressing through gaps.

Philadelphia Eagles 2022 Predictions by Logan Radke.

Inside zone and split zone are very similar, but in split zone a sniffer tight end is used to break back across the formation on the backside defensive end.
When used against teams that rely on their backside player to crash hard against zone runs to limit the amount of time a running back has to make a read, this type of run design is quite effective.

The Philadelphia Eagles 2022 Study by Logan Radke.

These two run designs are easy but powerful ways to attack a defense.
On the surface, they might appear to be fairly simple, but Shane Steichen often adds variations to keep defenses on their toes.

Steichen will combine inside zone/split zone with RPO designs, read-option calls, play-action, and other options to keep defenses on their toes.
I’d guess that, overall, inside zone/split zone defenses account for roughly 70–80 percent of all Colts rushing attempts.

The Colts’ offensive success rests largely on these two run designs, which have proven to be extremely efficient over the past month.

Adding Power to the Mix.

Although inside zone running constitutes the Colts’ primary offensive strategy, they occasionally mix in power runs as the situation demands.
Actually, the Los Angeles Rams game in week three provided the best illustration of this.
Zack Moss only managed 10 yards on five carries in the first half thanks to the Rams’ run defense, which shut down the inside zone run game.

When the second half rolled around, the Colts started to rely more on their power running attack.
This modification allowed Moss to finally make a play, and he finished the second half of play with a very respectable 13 rushes for 60 yards.

On this power rush to the right side, the team made one of its best runs of that contest.
As Moss erupted up the middle for an impressive chunk gain, Quenton Nelson maneuvered around the outside and kicked out the playside defensive end.

Because of how similar they appear to inside zone runs, these power runs are incredibly effective. That is where the Colts’ rushing scheme utilizes the straightforward yet varied philosophy. The Colts will repeatedly attack defenses with inside zones before sprinkling in a power run from the exact same offensive look.

This season, the Colts’ limited usage of these power/gap runs has shown to have a significant impact.
Despite being a zone-rushing team, the Colts occasionally mix in some gap/power against specific defenses.

Adding some Wham/Trap music.

 

The Cols will also incorporate their fair share of trap runs while defenses are still reeling from the heavy inside zone team that occasionally mixes in a power play.
Despite being even more infrequent than power/gap calls, these have had a huge impact when made during the year.

On a typical pull where a puller is involved, the pulling offensive lineman will kick out a playside defensive end or fill a gap to climb to the second level.
Trap calls, on the other hand, are distinct because the pulling lineman will be in charge of a defensive lineman on the interior of the offensive line who is unblocked (effectively trapping that defensive lineman after initial penetration).

These are great variations to incorporate into a zone rushing attack to penalize aggressive defensive lines.
In the first clip, left tackle Blake Freeland pulls around to the middle of the field to knock out the unblocked 5-Tech on the inside.

A wham block is the most popular variant of trap calls among people.
Wham and trap are identical, but in wham the sniffer tight end is the player pulling to the interior.
Usually, the sniffer is in charge of removing the 1-Tech or nose tackle from the play.

In fact, Jeff Stoutland and the Philadelphia Eagles are the original source of the variation the Colts like to add to the wham. Instead of just having the sniffer tight end move against the play’s flow, the Colts also have the right guard kick out the backside end to make room for the right tackle to move up to the second level.

The reads for both linebackers at the second level are complicated by this minute variation, creating a gaping hole inside.

Once more, this play’s similarity to other run designs adds to its beauty. Just take another look at the play above.
In the moments before the snap, it appears that the Colts will run a split zone, but as a defense, anything could happen.

To your surprise, the offense wanted the split zone to be disrupted so they could hit you up the middle as a defensive tackle. The Colts’ rushing attack appears to be very straightforward, but it actually employs a wide variety of strategies

The Final Verdict.

 

I neglected to even mention the quarterback design run aspect of the Indianapolis Colts’ designed run game, which is objectively a blast to study.
With the Colts, Shane Steichen has applied what he discovered from the great Jeff Stoutland in Philadelphia to a T.

Imagine how effective Jonathan Taylor will appear once he gets back to speed.
Zack Moss has benefited from this varied rushing attack over the past month.
Later in the 2023 season, the Colts might be able to reach their rushing dominance of 2021 levels.

 

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