This off season should be really interesting for the Colts front office and the decisions they make- especially concerning the position of sudden depth, running back. Let’s recap where we stand going into the beginning of the season.
Vic Ballard seemed to be the entrenched starter followed by Ahmad Bradshaw once he was fully healed. This seemed to be the ideal situation for the Colts. Bradshaw, once healthy, would give the team the “Angry Runner” that coach Pagano wanted to install since he was brought in as coach. Ballard was the all around “Bell Cow” back that could be seamlessly interchanged depending on play or down. This had the chance to be a very good backfield for the team, yet injuries cut this experiment short. Donald Brown was the clear number three on the depth chart and playing mostly on special teams.When he did get a touch he looked very good, but it seemed the front office was not buying what he was selling.
Phase Two: T-Rich or Bust!!
With injuries to Ballard, Allen Grigson made a shocking move: a trade for the 3rd overall pick in 2012 draft. The move was met with extreme polar reactions. Some of these reactions went like this:
“OMG WE JUST GOT TRENT F’N RICHARDSON!!!” #SUPERBOWL
“THE COLTS JUST FLEECED THE BROWNS!!”
“I DON’T GET THIS MOVE, WHAT DOES DWAYNE ALLEN’S INJURY HAVE TO DO WITH THEM NEEDING RICHARDSON”
One my Favorites: “AREN’T YOU GLAD THE COLTS ACQUIRED RICHARDSON, OTHERWISE WE WOULD BE LEFT WITH DONALD BROWN AS THE BACK UP TO BRADSHAW”
My point, the front office didn’t really think much of Brown, so much so, Richardson was brought in immediately and played in the dominating win over the 49ers, scoring on his first touch as a Colt. Yet Brown, kept running and producing even though he was the clear number three on the team, right? The Bradshaw injury now opened the door for his chance to firmly hold the second back spot on the team. But the story goes on.
The front office and coaching staff didn’t want to call it a benching, but that is what it was. Richardson was not producing for whatever reason (brought into early, he’s a bust, the line stinks, etcetera). Meanwhile, Donald Brown never complained, stayed focused and has been incredibly good at making plays when the team needed him. Timing is everything and the timing is perfect for Brown in a contract year. He’s clearly their best back on the team this season, but will the team be able to retain him next season?
PHASE 4: 2014 & BEYOND
We still have one game in the regular season left and at least one playoff game, maybe more. What will the roster look like next season?
He’s a lock to make the team. Front office gave up a lot to get him, he’s not going anywhere.
Ballard – 80%
Only thing preventing him from making the team is his progress from his injury. That’s why I put him at 80% instead of 100%, coaching staff likes him and he’s young.
Ahmad Bradshaw – 1%
When he’s healthy he’s a game changer, but that was the knock against him going into the season, and it proved to be true. With his neck injury, who knows if he plays next season. It always seemed like he wanted a one year deal, and that’s the way it will likely turn out. I left just a sliver of hope because it’s the NFL and anything can happen.
Donald Brown -50%
I think many of fans would like him to be back, but being a contract year, it complicates matters. I think a Richardson, Ballard, and Brown backfield could be very good if given a chance to develop. All three are relatively young, Brown being the oldest, but he still has good years left for the position. He never developed under the Polian regime the way they intended. He was to replace what seemed like an aging Joseph Addai once his contract was up, but things didn’t work out that way. Addai had to be re-signed because Brown wasn’t ready (They would never publicly admit it). Injuries early on started to bring about labels: soft, bust, injury prone as well as his deficiencies in pass blocking all are part of the equation. (GOD DAMMIT DONALD).
Is there a chance all of them come back? Yes, possible, but most likely not probable. Bradshaw is most likely gone, and Brown is a toss up because of his contract situation. The team better weigh this decision carefully and decide if they want to let him walk or sign him, even franchise tag him. All will have consequences. Donald, though, has shifted the pressure from him back to the front office. Grigson gets paid to make tough choices like this- glad it’s not me.
You call follow me @Coltsfan360fw on Twitter