The Indianapolis Colts became the first team since 1998 to make the playoffs without a 500-yard rusher, and they’ve struggled this year at stopping the run as well. So the comments from Colts coach Jim Caldwell about the importance of the ground game in the playoffs are particularly noteworthy.
“I think it’s very important because one of the things you find out, particularly once you get to this stage, is there are going to be very few teams that don’t have a real strong running game and very few teams that don’t have the ability to stop the run,” Caldwell said. “That’s what playoff teams look like.”
If that’s what playoff teams look like, then the Colts didn’t look like a playoff team for most of this season. The Colts’ offense was 29th in the NFL with 1,483 rushing yards, and their defense was 25th in the NFL with 2,032 rushing yards allowed.
And yet there are reasons for optimism in how the Colts have played lately. The Indianapolis Star notes that during their current four-game winning streak, the Colts have averaged 4.5 yards a carry and 133.5 rushing yards a game while allowing 3.5 yards a carry and 79.8 yards a game. That’s reminiscent of the way the Colts turned their run defense around in the playoffs and relied more on their run offense in winning Super Bowl XLI.
So were the real Colts the ones who struggled so much in the ground game during the first 12 games of the season, or the ones who turned things around over the last four games? The Jets will put that to the test on Saturday night.