Colts Frank Reich said the Colts are a racing team

INDIANAPOLIS – There will be occasions when Carson Wentz wins.

He posted a career-high 402 yards and two touchdowns in the overtime loss to Baltimore, and everyone remembers those 26 straight losses in the loss to Tampa Bay. He tied a career record with more than 100 assists in seven games, has 22 touchdowns against just five interceptions and had a six-game streak where he delivered at least two touchdown passes in each.

And in case you forgot, the NFL remains a quarterback-run business.

The Indianapolis Colts aren’t exactly an outlier, but they aren’t conformists either.

Listen to Frank Reich.

“What matters to me is that our DNA – our identity from the first day I got here from the last place I was – (is) we’re going to run football,” he said. . “That’s what I believe offensively as a team that you have to be able to do to consistently win in this league.

“I’m not saying that there is never a roster dynamic that could do otherwise, but the idea that came up was that we wanted to be able to run the game.”

It is the MO of Reich.

“I know what it’s like to be on a team that can run football,” he said. “I’ve been through this all my life as a quarterback and a coach. “

As the offensive coordinator of the 2017 Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles, Reich relied on the NFL’s No.3-ranked running game.

During his training years as a backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, he was part of a quick attack that was considered successful, but was in fact one of the league’s most prolific on the field. . It ranked in the top 10 from 1988 to 1995 and was No. 1 in 1991 to 1992.

“It’s a powerful thing to be able to run the ball,” said Reich. “It doesn’t necessarily mean 50 times or 200 meters. It just means that you can run the ball whenever you want, and you can operate it efficiently.

“I really think if you want to be a really dynamic attacker, which we want to be, you have to be able to execute in both areas. We always strive (for) this, but for us, we always say that the basis of this is the racing game. ”

The man has put his game plan where his mouth is. To consider:

  • The Colts have run for at least 200 yards in a regular season game 31 times since their move in 1984. Ten have come in the past four seasons under Reich supervision. This includes four of the top seven and five of the top 11. It is no coincidence that they are 29-2 in these games.
  • Three of the 11 best runs since 1984 have been played this season: 264 yards at Buffalo, 260 against the New York Jets and 238 at Houston.
  • Jonathan Taylor leads the league in rushing (1,348), scrum yards (1,684), rushing touchdowns (16) and total number of touchdowns (18).
  • Taylor set the franchise record in one game with 253 yards against Jacksonville in the 2020 regular season finale.
  • Marlon Mack set the team’s playoff record with 148 yards for Houston in a 2018 first-round game in Houston, which was part of a 200-yard playoff team record.

Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly traces the Colts’ race-centric approach to a Week 7 reunion with Buffalo in 2018. They had staged a 1-5 start in Reich’s first season, but seemed to finally embrace that DNA mentioned by Reich.

“Very distinctive game,” Kelly said. “On the record, we weren’t very good. I think we put (37) on them.

“That’s really what changed the mindset of this team. “

The Colts pushed the Bills into submission: 220 yards on 37 rushing attempts in a 37-5 blowout. The following week, they rushed 40 times for 222 yards in a 42-28 victory at Oakland.

Since then, Kelly insisted, “we’ve always been a great team. “

First with Mack, who led the team in the ground race in 2018-19, and now with Taylor.

The team’s 2020 second-round pick has become the undeniable catalyst for a ranked 11 offensee in yards per game (368.1), 2sd in a rush (151.7) and 4e in the notation (28.5). By the way, that rushed average would be the Colts’ highest since 1985 (152.4).

Taylor has run at least 100 yards in seven of his last 10 games and is on track for 1762, which would eclipse Edgerrin James’ club record (1709 in 2000).

But with each passing week, the target on Taylor’s back has increased. The teams have crowded the line of scrimmage making it more difficult for him and forcing Wentz to do more in the passing game.

“I mean, obviously you’re going to see more attention, more boxes stacked up and then it just falls on us,” Taylor said. “It relies on us as an offense to make sure we’re all on our lines and missions.

“Especially when you have a box loaded you have to make sure that technique is working and make sure that we guys equip it. I have to do a great job of getting the guys to the blocks and not just letting the inline line and receivers cover the guys as well. ”

All of this makes Saturday night’s showdown with the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium so intriguing.

The Colts want to throw the damn ball.

The Patriots are among the best at preventing that from happening, and don’t let their lackluster rankings fool you.

New England Race Defense Ranks 19the in yards per game (114.5) and in yards per attempt (4.4). But those numbers are skewed somewhat by a Week 12 win over Tennessee. As the Patriots rolled 36-13, the Titans racked up 270 yards – most in the NFL this season – on 39 attempts.

In its other 12 games, the Patriots have allowed averages of 101.5 yards per game and 4.1 per attempt; 12-game floor performance would rank 8e. During their seven-game winning streak, they allow 10 points per game, the lowest in the league.

And let’s not forget that Coach Bill Belichick is a master at knocking out whatever an opponent does best.

“I mean, he’s the best ever,” Reich said. “This is the No. 1 defense. It’s a big challenge. We know they are very well supervised. They are physical, they are disciplined.

“They have playmakers in defense. They return the ball. ”

Wentz added, “They are very specific, I would say in every game, on how they want to stop an opponent. For us it will be, ‘Hey, get out early, let’s see what the flavor of the day is. How are they trying to stop us? ” ‘

Whatever approach Belichick takes, the design will limit Taylor’s effectiveness.

“Of course, of course,” Wentz said. “I would say a lot of teams have been doing it lately. For us JT is still as good as he can get at that position in the league and we trust our big boys up front no matter what they look like to do it.

“For us, it will always be the same. We are going to try to get the ball rolling and I have no doubts that we are going to be able to do it. We’re still going to do our thing. Then, as they always say in a game, make the necessary adjustments. ”

Along with the normal adjustments, it will be up to Reich and offensive coordinator Marcus Brady to stay engaged in their running game, unless the Patriots are able to win with loaded fronts and creativity.

Explosive plays have been a big part of Taylor’s breakout season. He leads the NFL with 10 carries at least 20 yards and three that have won at least 40. Taylor has generated the two longest carries in the league this season: 83 yards against Houston on 6 and a touchdown from 78 yards against the Jets in week 9.

“If you do it enough for him, he’s going to create some big games,” Reich said. “But at the same time, we don’t want him banging his head against a wall during play-ins and play-outs.

“It comes down to this mix of how much is too much or how much is not enough, and it’s a game-by-game, really series-by-series feel.”

Listen to the Colts Blue Zone podcast for weekly coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @ mchappell51.

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