The Indianapolis Colts defense is not a stout unit. Opponents average 137.5 yards per game on the ground, as well as 5.1 yards per carry. In Week 16 the Kansas City Chiefs racked up 352 yards rushing but lost the game due to three turnovers. In Week 17 the Houston Texans averaged 5.1 yards per carry but only rushed the ball 20 times as opposed to 36 pass attempts.
The Colts defense did a better job of limiting the big run plays against Houston but there was still room to run. I believe the Texans’ reluctance to stick with the ground game led to their demise in Indianapolis.
The Colts are particularly weak on the edge and can be had using zone or man schemes. The Ravens employ both and should be able to exploit the team from Indy with Rice and Pierce.
Here the Chiefs line up in an I Left Formation, which is also a standard formation for the Ravens offense.
Kansas City has an outside zone run called. Each offensive lineman is going to work to their right to try to seal the edge for the fullback to come around on a linebacker and spring Charles down the sideline. The key block on this play is the right tackle on the play side OLB.
The tackle does a good enough job on the OLB and the fullback is able to get around and block the play side ILB. Charles gets in the open field easily.
In this shot the Chiefs line up in an Ace formation with two Tight Ends.
The Chiefs go with a man blocking scheme on this play with hopes that they can suck in the play side OLB just enough for the right tackle to scoop and seal him while the tight end blocks down on the defensive end.
Before the snap each offensive lineman has identified which defender they are responsible for and what route they will have to take to get there.
Hillis recognizes that the can get outside of the OLB and exploits the Colts’ shoddy edge-setting.
The Colts did a better job against Houston. The Texans try to get to the edge with an outside zone play out of a single back formation with the tight end to the right.
The Texans want to get outside of the tight end and each offensive lineman will work to his right.
The Colts’ play side OLB does a good job of forcing Foster inside by turning the tight end back inside. Foster makes his cut and still manages three hard-fought yards.
The Texans are primarily a zone running team but they use a man scheme here to shake things up. Here Houston aligns in a single back formation with the tight end to the left.
The tight end blocks down on the defensive end and the left tackle takes care of the OLB.
The Texans were close to breaking this run for a TD if the right guard could have successfully cut down #50. Foster still managed an easy 4-yard run.
Positive running plays like those shown above are not an uncommon occurrence when playing Indy and it is important for the Ravens offense to stay patient. As the game goes on 3-yard runs will turn into 15-yard runs and the Colts edge rushers will grow tired of getting blocked.
The eye in the sky doesn’t lie. The Ravens will have room to run on Sunday and they would be smart to use it.