Indianapolis Colts fans rejoice. OK, so your backfield is a bit crowded now that Ahmad Bradshaw joins Vick Ballard, Donald Brown and Delone Carter. However, Bradshaw brings plenty of great things to the Colts offense. Super Bowl experience (and two rings), seven seasons in the league, 1,000-plus yard capability, and an average of 4.6 yards per carry in 2012 are just some of the attributes that Bradshaw will bring to the Colts.
In 2012, Bradshaw split carries with Andre Brown and David Wilson while missing four games with a foot injury and still managed to rush for 1,015 yards on 221 carries. Not too shabby. Since then, Bradshaw has had surgery on that foot and plans on making a full comeback. Bradshaw told ESPN that he is, “Taking it slow right now,” but we all know Bradshaw is a tough player and should be out there during camp impressing his new coaches.
So what does all of this have to do with Andrew Luck, you ask? Well, attention, that’s what. Having a known threat in your backfield who is a potential 1,000-yard rusher, and a receiving threat (Bradshaw had 23 receptions for 245 yards in 2012), can take the attention off your quarterback and receivers. Having to keep an eye on Bradshaw, who is sneaky out of the backfield, means at least one less body covering the receivers.
Luck had 627 passing attempts last season, behind only Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo and Tom Brady, all quarterbacks with no serious backfield threats. Luck also had the third-highest number of interceptions in 2012 behind only Brees and Romo. The point here, more throws equals more interceptions, especially when you have a young inexperienced quarterback who is still learning the ropes. Don’t get me wrong, Luck handled his rookie season exceptionally well, but think about how he could be with a backfield threat!
To show exactly how Bradshaw can help improve Luck’s stats simply by being behind him at the line, I will share some of Eli Manning’s stats from when Bradshaw was injury-free and played all 16 games, the 2010 season. In the 2010 season, on 539 attempts, Manning completed 339 passes, had 4,002 passing yards and 31 touchdowns. Manning’s two main receivers that year put up big numbers as well. Hakeem Nicks had 1,052 receiving yards, with Mario Manningham being just shy of 1,000 with 944 receiving yards. And of course, that same year the New York Giants added another ring to their collection. Now it is hard to credit those big passing and receiving numbers to the fact that Bradshaw had to be watched in the backfield, but you can’t help but make the connection between the two.
If Bradshaw’s surgery went well, and he plays a full season with a majority of the workload, look for Luck’s numbers to improve. Manning has proven that with less attempts you can still have big numbers. If Bradshaw draws attention away from receivers, and can balance the offense, instead of having a pass-heavy attack, acquiring Bradshaw will be the best thing to happen to Luck.