Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Ken Moll
The Indianapolis Colts' offense has shown signs of getting back to the high-powered unit that most of us are used to, with three impressive victories after a couple of poor performances that had put them behind the eight ball. One big factor in the Colts' offense getting back in sync has been running back Joseph Addai's return to health.
Addai missed some time early in the season, and when he did play, he wasn't healthy (and it showed).
In two of the Colts' past three victories (versus New England and Pittsburgh), Addai didn't post impressive numbers. But he clearly had an impact on the opponent's game plan, which enabled Peyton Manning more time in the pocket as well as fewer nickel packages to move the ball against.
Addai has great vision, agility and burst to and through the hole, and most defensive coordinators have to account for his ability to move the chains on the ground with fewer blitz packages or up-field techniques by their perimeter pass-rushers. Clearly the Patriots, Steelers and Texans had to devise game plans for a balanced offensive attack with Manning and Addai in the backfield, which made it easier for Manning to execute the Indianapolis air assault.
In two previous losses (without Addai), Manning had two of his worst outings since his rookie season. Bouncing back with seven touchdowns and no interceptions has been a direct result of a healthy Addai being in the game. Addai is not only an excellent ball carrier but also a receiver and pass protector that Manning feels most confident and comfortable with.
One of their most utilized running schemes (which sets up much of the Colts' air attack) is the stretch play. Addai is excellent at not only running it but also bringing defenders with him when carrying out his fake.
Other backs, such as Dominic Rhodes, were at times more productive than Addai, but opposing defenses would overplay Manning and the potentially explosive passing attack when Addai wasn't in the game. When both Manning and Addai are playing at a high level this Indianapolis offense is one of the most productive in the league. But they both need to be healthy and on the field at the same time.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.