Indianapolis Colts Offense: Analyzing Patriots’ Week 6 Test

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Oct 8, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore (23) runs with the ball against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Gore, Running Back

Somebody must have gotten the memo to wake Frank Gore up when September ends.  Ever since exploding for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns in September 27th’s game against the Tennessee Titans, who surprisingly rank 10th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, Gore has been back in borderline vintage form.

So far, he’s rushed for 325 yards and 3 scores on the season, with 237 of those coming in games against Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Houston.

The Colts got some LOLs at the beginning of the season for what some people called the “Madden Strategy” of signing a player way past their 30th birthday in hopes that they’re still as awesome as they were at 25 years old, but after a lousy Week 1 showing, Frank Gore is right back to doing Frank Gore things.

The 32-year-old back from Miami University’s famous ability to fall forward and, quite literally, make yards out of nothing puts any defense to the test, and if he’s still carving out yards against Vince Wilfork, Jadeveon Clowney, and J.J. Watt, Gore’s clearly still doing something right.

Who Can Stop Him?

You’d be forgiven if you thought that the Patriots run defense was going to be a cupcake this season after Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams ran all over them for 127 yards and 6.0 yards a carry in Week 1. You would also be mistaken. Sort of.

The Patriots actually rank 8th in the NFL in rush yards allowed, with 451 rushing yards allowed on the season, but of course, their Week 3 bye makes that statistic look way better than it should.  More concerning is how many yards per game the Pats are yielding – by that standard, they drop to 20th in the league, giving up an average of 112.8 yards per game.  Atlanta (!!!), of all people, rank first, allowing 78.4 rush yards per game on average.

Against the Bills, New England tried several different defensive line combinations to stop the run: the idea basically turned into building a brick wall with Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, and Sealver Siliga and putting Jabaal Sheard and Dont’a Hightower outside to contain not only the run, but the quarterback as well.

Put simply, if Frank Gore is allowed to reach the second level, the guy still has enough power to level a defensive back, and especially if a heavy defensive front is used, it’ll most likely fall on Jamie Collins and Jerod Mayo (or potentially Jonathan Freeny) to bottle him up.

On the positive side, the Patriots were able to limit the Dallas Cowboys to 100 total rushing yards last week, and that’s against what’s arguably the best offensive line in the game.

The idea of selling out against the run doesn’t seem particularly likely against an Andrew-Luck-led team, though, so mostly, the responsibility for preventing Gore from breaking off a big run is going to fall on those linebackers, and safety Patrick Chung if New England decides to stack the box.

Next: Next Up: The U, Part II