The Colts were dismantled by the Patriots during Sunday’s AFC Championship loss. Entering the offseason the team will be looking to improve a roster which was good enough to win the AFC South but not good enough to get to the Super Bowl.
One of the spots the Colts will look to improve at is running back.
After Ahmad Bradshaw broke his leg in Week 11 the Colts ground game became non-existent. After being in the top half of teams in total rushing with Bradshaw on the field, the Colts finished the season 22nd overall on the backs of Dan Herron and Trent Richardson.
“That’s what we’ve got to be able to do,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “We talk all the time, you’ve got to be able to do both. You’ve got to run it, and you’ve got to stop the run. Again, we didn’t do a good job of that yesterday. You saw what it opened up for Brady and his playmakers on the outside. That’s what the offseason is for. We’ll turn all stones. We’ll look at our schemes in all three phases and make the appropriate adjustments. We’re going to go through another draft, free agency, all that stuff. Look at ourselves extensively over the next two weeks from a personnel standpoint and evaluate everything top to bottom. Then it’s start marking the necessary adjustments that we have to make in order to get to the mountain top.”
Bradshaw was still wearing a walking boot when he returned to clean out his locker this season. The 28-year-old hopes to be able to resume working out soon but will enter free agency with even more questions than before. Bradshaw’s lengthy injury history will overshadow the success he had this season when he averaged 4.72 yards per carry on 90 rushes for 425 yards and two touchdowns. He added another 38 receptions for 300 yards and six touchdowns.
It is possible the Colts bring Bradshaw back but given that he has played just 13 games over the last two seasons it will not be as the starter. Dan Herron seized the top spot on the depth chart at the end of the season but fumbles have convinced many within the organization that he is merely a backup. There is also the case for Vick Ballard who is coming off an Achilles’ tear but given that he has played one game in the last two seasons and hardly impressed during his rookie season of 2012 the Colts would be foolish to leave their ground game in his hands.
As for Richardson his roster status is firmly in question even though his salary is fully guaranteed for 2015. Given the starters role he did nothing to show he deserved it – or a spot on an NFL roster. The former No. 3 overall pick will hit the offseason trying to turn things around while getting in better shape.
The good news for the Colts is the NFL Draft features a strong assortment of backs. Georgia’s Todd Gurley leads a class that includes Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin), Tevin Coleman (Indiana), Duke Johnson (Miami), and T.J. Yeldon (Alabama). There is a very good chance the Colts lead back for 2015 is not on the roster right now.