Posted by coltsindianapolis on June 22, 2012 – 8:00 am
Colts.com regularly features blogs written by one of our fans. This post was submitted by divineprodigy
The Colts running game hasn’t given any opposing defenses any nightmares since the haydays of Edgerrin James. Ever since his departure, the team has relied on 90% of the arm and brain power of Peyton Manning, and 10% of “running back by committee.” Enter 4th year RB Donald Brown. According to the critics, Brown has been deemed a “bust” due to the lack of his production since joining the team. These opinions are being made by people who are only looking on the surface of his career. When I look at Brown, I can’t help but be reminded of another RB who’s career didn’t start off well with the team who drafted him either, but went on to be a bell cow for two other NFL franchises he played for: Thomas Jones. Jones was drafted by the Cardinals in 2000. He was even dubbed the top rated RB coming out of college that year. He didn’t play like it for any stretch of his career while in St Louis. After a one year stint with the Bucs that saw his YPC go from 3.7 in St Louis to 4.6 with the Bucs, he landed in Chicago. With the Bears is where his career took off as a RB. For 3 years Jones’ production increased considerably from what it was with the Cardinals (511yds in 2002 for the Cardinals vs 948 yds in 2004 for Chicago). 2 of those three years he rushed for over 1200 yards. In 2007 he went to the Jets. His production with the Jets climbed each year he was there as well with his best year coming in 2009 where he rushed for 1400 yrds.
The point I make with this comparison is one that simply suggests given the right situation with the right team, a player who has been a “bust” for one team can also be a gem for another. Now even though Brown is still with the Colts, in essence its as if he is playing on a different team due to all of the changes that have taken place with the organization: New coaching staff, new players, new scheme. Technically, Donald Brown is on a “new team.” That is why I feel he will have his most productive year in the coming season for the Colts this year. The offensive line will be bigger than the one he has played behind for the majority of his short career. The men coming in to replace what was here before are better than what we had before. Donald Brown as well as all of the other RBs are going to have running lanes that they didn’t have previously. Scheme is more important than overall “talent.” No one exemplified this subtle truth better than former Broncos and current Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan. In Denver, it didn’t matter who Shanahan had in a RB, they all ran for over 1000 yards in a season. He even got that kind of production from a former Post Office worker in Mike Anderson!
That being said, when it comes to assessing what kind of RB Donald Brown will be considering what he had to work with coming into the league vs the potential of what he could be with what he has now, calling him a “bust” based upon those circumstances would be inaccurate. The best approach to take on this would be one that says: “Just wait and see.” Brown has flashed great potential when given the opportunity. The problem is he just hasn’t been given enough of them as well as not having the best of O lines to work with either. Add the season ending neck injury to Manning and you have another year lost due to ineffective play from the QB position. All of that should change this year. With the new additions on offense starting with Andrew Luck, coupled with the improved emphasis not only on the running game, but also the pieces in place to make it all work, I expect a breakout season for Brown that will have his naysayers lining up to get his jersey.