Offensive Balance An Offseason Priority For Colts

Intro: With Colts coaches busy evaluating the 2014 season, the run game is sure to be a heavy topic to improve on heading into 2015.

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INDIANAPOLIS – With a driving rainstorm and swirling winds moving in the direction of Gillette Stadium, the conditions were what you would expect to encounter in New England this time of year.

It was the type of setting that Chuck Pagano often pointed to when explaining the importance of having a consistent run game.

When the weather turns dark in January, offensive balance is an ingredient that often leads to playoff success.

It's something Colts players alluded to in the aftermath of their AFC Championship loss to New England.

"How much did we rush for?" Dwayne Allen said posing the question back to the media when asked about the lack of offensive production.

"It's tough to get open in the backend whenever their linebackers are dropping out. They have a very talented secondary and they weren't afraid to match up on us."

While the Colts rushing numbers weren't glaring against New England (19 carries for 83 yards), the personnel the Patriots displayed indicated they weren't going to let Indy's potent passing game beat them.

Kyle Arrington, New England's third cornerback in the regular season, played all 56 defensive snaps in the AFC Championship.

Allen said the dropping of the Patriots linebackers took away the Colts crossing routes, intermediate options that had benefited Andrew Luck throughout the season.

These changes forced the Colts away from third-and-manageable situations.

The Colts were just 3-of-11 on the money down with those conversions coming in attempts of two, three and five yards.

On the eight non-conversions for the Colts, those came in an average of third-and-eight scenarios.

Staying on schedule is something offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton constantly preaches and that was absent against the Patriots.

"As you go through a season, you figure out what you are able to do well and you stick with it," Allen said.

"Andrew can throw the football, he can dissect defenses and get us into the best play possible. We rode his arm a lot of the season through victories. I feel as if whenever you are dealing with those top-four, top-five teams and you are competing against those teams who are able to run the football and stop the run, you have to be multi-dimensional. You can't go into those games thinking you can out throw them and come out of there with a victory."

Taking a look at the Patriots numbers on third down from the AFC Championship and they further prove Allen's point.

New England was 12-of-18 on third down (had two other fourth-down conversions). They averaged a third-and-three down and distance on their 12 conversions, including five third-and-ones and a pair of third-and-twos.

Colts coaches are currently in the thick of self-evaluation, with the run game high on the checklist.

At his season ending press conference, Pagano said that what the Patriots were able to do in the AFC Championship is a direct result of offensive balance.

"You saw the other side of it. That's what we've got to be able to do," Pagano said of the run/pass threat. "We talk all the time, you've got to be able to do both. "You saw what it opened up for (Tom) Brady and his playmakers on the outside.

"That's what the offseason is for. We'll turn all stones. We'll look at our schemes in all three phases and make the appropriate adjustments…the necessary adjustments that we have to make in order to get to the mountain top."

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