In recent weeks, the Indianapolis Colts’ offense has come out of a mid-season skid that could probably be blamed on the season ending injury to receiver Reggie Wayne.
As you’ve probably heard by now, the re-emergence of the Colts offense can largely be attributed to the rise of second year receiver T.Y. Hilton and his chemistry with Andrew Luck. Hilton absolutely shredded the Chiefs in their Wildcard match-up, putting up a historic statline of 13 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
He’s a dynamic threat who can make plays all over the field. And yes, we’ll be discussing what the Patriots need to do in order to stop him in the coming days.
That being said, Hilton isn’t the only Colts weapon that Patriots fans should be familiar with. Running back Donald Brown, an afterthought for the Colts heading into the season, has finally started to hit on the expectations that came with being the 27th overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Donald Brown was a key part of the Colts’ victory over the Chiefs on Saturday. He carried the ball for 55 yards on 11 carries with a score and caught four passes for 47 yards and another touchdown.
Brad Wells of Stampede Blue went deeper into Brown’s new role with the team following the win:
While Trent Richardson has struggled in Pep Hamilton's variation of the West Coast offense, Brown has found new life in it. Hamilton's utilization of Brown running out of 3-WR sets has maximized Brown's speed and home run ability more so than former coordinators Tom Moore or Bruce Arians ever could do. Brown is so dangerous running and catching passes from the shotgun that defenses almost have to account for him as much as they do for Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton.
Since the injury to Jerod Mayo, the Patriots have struggled mightily to defend dual threat backs (although even Mayo is far from great in this area). When Brown is used in the shotgun as Wells describes above, the Patriots will likely be in their sub-package, meaning there could easily be a linebacker in man coverage on Brown a significant portion of the game.
That puts the pressure on players such as Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Dane Fletcher to perform. If the Patriots are smart, they will make sure it’s either Collins or Fletcher.
The Colts also use the running back screen game at a relatively frequent rate, as ProFootballFocus.com has charted. If they’ve done their homework, they will likely attack the Patriots in this area as well. The Patriots must be prepared and they must perform better than they have in this area throughout the season.