Was any team more in need of a player that they ended up signing this offseason than the Colts were with Frank Gore? In 2014, Indy finished 22nd in the NFL with just 100.8 rushing yards per game. They didn’t have one running back gain 100 yards in a game all season. They’ve only had one since Andrew Luck became the quarterback in 2012. The lack of a legitimate running game has been one of the main factors that has prevented the Colts from getting to the next level.
The running back position isn’t the only reason the Colts have had trouble moving the ball on the ground. The offensive line wasn’t able to generate any consistent push last season. That isn’t likely to change in 2015, at least based on the moves they’ve made so far.
With that line, the Colts have needed a running back who could be an efficient runner, keep the offense on schedule, and take advantage of small holes and crevices. Trent Richardson wasn’t that type of back. Ahmad Bradshaw has the ability to create on his own, but his injury issues rendered him unreliable. “Boom” Herron and Vick Ballard are nice backs, but they need room to run.
Frank Gore is a different story. Gore is as professional of a runner as it gets. He won’t run away from anyone, but he still has great quickness in tight spaces. He has great running instincts too. Gore has an unbelievable feel for setting up blockers and he has tremendous vision. He can see holes before they appear based on the flow of his blockers and the defense, and this enables him to get yards in the absence of gaping running lanes.
Take this play for instance. Does this look like a 10-yard gain?
That’s a lot of congestion in a tight space. Even though many of the bodies in there are his own blockers, the hole hasn’t quite emerged yet. But just a few frames later, Gore has already planted his left foot in the ground and started his cut upfield.
One of his lead blockers has just started to cross Gore’s face and he’s already made his decision. Just a few frames later, Gore is attacking what looks to be a small alley.
Gore trusted the design of the play here. You can see the hole starting to emerge.
And below, Gore is on his way through it.
That’s not a huge hole folks, and it wasn’t there when Gore made his decision to cut upfield. You don’t see many backs in the league hit a hole that size and that undefined as quickly and decisively as Gore did here. Had he hesitated just a little bit, the hole would have disappeared just as quickly as it materialized.
Lots of backs would have hesitated at the line of scrimmage here, been a second too late to cut upfield, or even tried to bounce it. Gore got 10 yards out of a small hole, and this is something he does on a regular basis.
On this play, Gore showed the ability to make his offensive line better. The hole wasn’t huge, but he made a big play out of it. Some running backs can create on their own using their power and athleticism. Others, like Gore, do it with smarts, vision, and feel.
Frank Gore is exactly the type of runner the Colts need. He’ll keep the offense on schedule, take what the defense gives him, and make yards where there seem to be none. He’s also a very good pass protector. Gore is a perfect overall complement to Andrew Luck, and he might be exactly what the Colts need to take the next step and get to the Super Bowl.