Evaluating the RB Situation

Starter: Frank Gore

Backups: Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, Tyler Varga, Trey Williams, Josh Ferguson

For just the second time in the past ten seasons, Frank Gore failed to rush for 1000 yards, except this time, he played in all 16 games compared to 2010 when he played in 11. The more glaring problem in his stat line is that this was the first season where he averaged below 4.1 yards per carry (3.7 in 2015). Like Luck, Gore was thrown behind an atrocious offensive line all season, so it’s tough to blame Gore for the dip in his production. After investing heavily to improve the line this offseason, the Colts organization and fans have tremendous confidence in Frank “the tank” Gore to become the first Colt to reach 1000 rushing yards since Joseph Addai in 2007. Frank Gore could also become the first Colt since Vick Ballard in Week 15 of the 2012-13 season to reach 100 rushing yards in a game. Gore does not show any signs of slowing down despite being 33, and luckily for the Colts, Gore hasn’t missed a game since the end of 2010-11 season.

The Colts handed out 1-year deals to Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman this offseason. Turbin has served as a backup for his entire career and looks to back up Gore this season. However, after a recent arrest for possession of marijuana, his roster spot could be in jeopardy. Todman is on his sixth team in just as many seasons. Todman has little value as a backup running back because he lacks home-run speed and he also lacks punishing power in his 5’9″ 195lbs frame. His value probably lies on special teams as a kick/punt returner where his shiftiness comes into play. Tyler Varga is a big bruising back who looks to replace Gore with his style of play in the future. He flashed some promise in the preseason, but saw his season come to an end with a nasty concussion during the last play of the Week 3 matchup against the Titans. Trey Williams has taken two handoffs in the NFL, both with the Colts. He has great agility and elusiveness and offers value as a both a change-of-pace back and a returner. Josh Ferguson is another shifty, elusive type of running back that the Colts are extremely high on. The Colts even debated spending a 4th round pick on him, but ended up signing him as an UDFA. He can have an immediate impact as a 3rd down back who can run, catch the ball out of the backfield, make guys miss, and pass block.

At this point, it’s tough to tell which running backs will make the final cut. Gore’s career is on its last leg with probably 2-3 years left, so the Colts need to either groom a north-south rusher like Turbin or Varga or invest a draft pick in a great running back class next year headlined by the likes of Leonard Fournette and Nick Chubb. The Colts have lacked speed coming out of the back field for a long time, and the Colts really think Ferguson could be the answer for years to come. With that being said, it seems like that Gore and Ferguson are locks to be on the final roster. Depending on how much Jim Irsay cares about his team’s image, Turbin seems likely to make the final cut. The Colts kept Vick Ballard around for 4 years even though he spent the majority of 3 years on the IR, so it’s possible that Varga can stick around. Todman and Williams would really have to shine in practice and the preseason to stick around.

 

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