Colts Running Back Joseph Addai Judges Himself Same Away Whatever the Circumstance
INDIANAPOLIS – Joseph Addai said his approach hasn't changed.
Addai, the Colts' fifth-year running back and a former Pro Bowl selection, said just as he cared little about statistics and the analysis of those outside the team the past couple of seasons, he has paid little attention to those things lately.
Sure, Addai rushed for nearly 100 yards this past Sunday.
And yes, Addai said he knows there are those who believe he's playing better than ever, but he said while he is enjoying football as much as he ever has – and while he said that may translate to solid play on the field – he said statistics aren't imant. He said they weren't important in the past.
And he said putting up impressive ones doesn't change his stance.
"That's the thing – I think people are giving the Colts' running game, and the running back, too much credit," Addai said Thursday as the Colts (1-1) prepared to play the Denver Broncos (1-1) at INVESCO Field at Mile High in Denver.
Addai, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, rushed for 544 yards in 12 games in 2008, then 828 in 15 games last season. Through two games this season, he has rushed 30 times for 136 yards for an average of 4.5 yards per carry.
With backup running back Donald Brown having rushed for 69 yards on 16 carries, the Colts – after finishing 31st and 32nd in the NFL in rushing the past two seasons – rank 18th in the category this season.
The Colts rank second in the NFL in total offense and first in passing.
"We certainly would love to have that kind of balance each and every week, but every week is a little different," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "Every week depends on the situation. It depends on how the opponent decides to play the game. So we can't say that week in and week out it is going to be exactly that way.
"We may strive to have as much balance as we would like to have had in that game, but chances are there may be a little compromise between the extremes."
Addai said that's the reason he puts little importance on statistics, and that his point can be seen in contrasting the Colts' Week Two games the past two seasons. A year ago in Week Two, Addai rushed for 32 yards on six carries – an average for 5.3 yards per carry – against Miami, a game in which the Colts held possession less than a quarter.
On Sunday night, in a victory over the Giants, the Colts controlled the game's momentum and held possession 35:06.
Addai rushed for 92 yards on 20 carries, an average of 4.6 yards per carry.
The difference in the performances, Addai said, came down to opportunity and game circumstance as much as any other factor.
"In-house, we understand we can run the ball," Addai said. "It's just if we get the opportunities. Early on, I think we're getting those opportunities and making the best out of them."
Addai's approach to statistics, as well as his approach on a daily and weekly basis in recent seasons,
has impressed teammates who say he's a relatively rare running back who plays within the system and worries little about numbers.
"Over the years, he hasn't gotten the opportunities that he probably wanted to have," offensive tackle Ryan Diem said. "He stuck with it. He hasn't given up on us or the system. He understands that we're going to take advantage of what the defense gives us. If that lends itself to passing a bunch, then he's going to sit in there and block.
"Now that he's gotten the opportunities to run, he's taken advantage of those opportunities. He's doing a great job."
Addai, who throughout his Colts career has talked more of being a complete running back than just a runner, said early in his fifth season an increased knowledge of the game has allowed him to improve on the field.
"It's my fifth year, and I don't want to say it's coming to me easy, but I'm starting to understand it a lot better," Addai said. "I'm seeing it clearly. . . . This season, I've started seeing myself into the flow."
Addai for the past several seasons has said one of his goals is to have complete understanding of the offense – a receiver's role on a given play, a tight end's role, etc.
"I think I'm getting to that point," he said. "I'm understanding what the defense might do before they actually do it. I understand when I'm one-on-one with a linebacker what he might be thinking. That only happens with time and being patient.
"That's the big thing, not getting discouraged with something maybe going wrong."
And Addai said while he always has had fun playing football, that knowledge – knowledge that comes with confidence and experience – has made it all the more enjoyable.
"With time, getting older, it's not stress," he said. "I'm past that learning point, of being a rookie. I'm past trying to get everything where I have to learn on the go. When something new comes in, I can get it quicker."
And while Addai said he knows observers may judge him and all running backs on statistics, he said he looks at things from what he considers a more realistic point of view. He said he has heard people say that he is "back," and when discussing it Thursday, he shook his head.
"I never understood that," Addai said, adding that in another sense, he did understand: "At the same time, I put myself in fans' shoes. I was never mad about that, but I have to keep a level head and understand what's going on, which I do. That's kind of how I go about it.
"You look at it in different ways. You look at it in the playoffs and the Super Bowl (last season). We had the chance to run, and we were able to do it. It's not so much that we can't do it. It's just when we get the opportunity, I think we make the most of it.
"We're kind of making a statement early on that whoever is saying the Colts can't run, I think we're trying to prove them wrong week-by-week."