Feed the Beast.
That phrase has gotten some humorous play around the media who cover the Indianapolis Colts in recent weeks. It all started when veteran running back Donald Brown began to play well earlier this year.
Brown had become something of an enigma for fans and the media the last couple of seasons. A first-round draft pick in 2009, the former University of Connecticut standout had not become the every-down performer that was envisioned by former Colts team president Bill Polian.
While Brown had his moments, the game-to-game consistency wasn't readily apparent. His seasonal stats have steadily improved, rushing for 281 yards as a rookie, 497 yards in 2010 and 645 yards last year. And then there were the issues about his ability to be a good pass blocker — necessary when a team features quarterbacks like, initially, Peyton Manning and now Andrew Luck.
Late last season, he had a breakdown performance in a 27-13 home-field win over Tennessee, rushing for a career-best 161 yards (including an 80-yard touchdown run). This year, Brown has again shown flashes of what Polian and the Colts' scouting department saw four years ago. He currently leads the team in rushing with 319 yards on 74 carries and has one rushing touchdown.
In last week's 19-13 overtime win at Tennessee, Brown returned from a two-week absence — after undergoing knee surgery — and had a team-high 80 yards rushing. It was his relatively quick return from injury, coupled with a hard-running style in the overtime (picking up 37 yards on the game-winning drive), that has caused fans to take a more appreciative view of the former Husky.
As for the phrase, “Feed the Beast,” the joke referred to the fact that the more times Brown carries the football, the better he seems to look.
Interestingly, Brown's resurgence can be tied directly to type of ground game that coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians wanted to install with the Colts.
Pagano came to Indianapolis from the Baltimore Raven, which has had a strong tradition of running the football. Arians, meanwhile, was in charge of the offense in Pittsburgh that has always run the football with effectiveness.
While they both wanted to copy those styles in Indianapolis, putting together the offense also included combing a strong running game with an efficient passing attack.
The two can work in unison, which was exhibited in last week's win over the Titans. Rookie Vick Ballard, second-year running back Delone Carter and Brown have formed a running back by committee approach. The trio worked well together in the Tennessee win.
“Oh it does wonders for everybody. The play action passes which, [while] we haven’t got our chunks, but we’re getting chunks in the running game. And we did get a couple off the play action which keeps the quarterback a lot cleaner when you’re not dropping back in that pocket and have the bulls eye on your chest," Arians explained.
“It makes it a lot easier, especially when you’re trying to throw it down the field. It’s always a good feeling for the offensive line, and the team in general, when they can run the football. Stop the run and run the football, that’s where we want to be.”
Upon being hired by the Colts, Arians set about trying to find running plays in the offense that would best showcase Brown's talents. He went back and looked at game tape from the running back's college career, attempting to discern which type of running plays suited Brown best.
“I liked Donald coming out. I thought he was a hard downhill runner with great speed. He has shown flashes of that speed for us and I love speed," Arians said, adding that he has also been impressed by the running back's work ethic.
"He is more than a professional, he’s a top notch pro. He’s more than prepared every week. He prepares the young guys. He’s a great leader in his room and he’s an explosive player and you can’t have enough of those.”
Brown, though, is hard to type cast. Known more as a speed runner, he has also be effective at taking the football inside between the tackles.
“He has the ability to do both. As long as he’s making yards, I don’t care. The runner has to be a runner; he can’t be programmed to fit it into this box," Arians explained. "He’s got to see it, feel it. But [Brown] does have the great speed when he feels like taking it outside to outrun everybody and that’s never a bad thing."
Brown, usually quiet and reserved in the locker room and on the field, is just happy to be able to make a contribution to the Colts' success this year.
"Anybody is capable of stepping up there and making a difference. The more weapons we have, the more it helps the team and offense," he said late last week. "That’s what you work for, that’s what you hope for. When the offensive line is doing a great job like they did last Sunday, it makes my job a lot easier too.
“The offensive line is doing a great job. Just continued preparation, keep working hard. The run game, sometimes you are going to get stuffed for zero or one yard but you have to stay with it, stay confident and eventually that one-yard run is going to turn into a 20-yard run.”
Feed the Beast.
Mathis, Colts hoping to gain defensive momentum against Texans
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, one of the Indianapolis Colts two most vested veterans, has taken it upon himself to make sure his team is ready for Sunday’s AFC South matchup with Houston (1 p.m., CBS Sports).
Mathis and injured wide receiver Reggie Wayne have been with the Colts the longest. They, along with defensive end Cory Redding and safety Antoine Bethea, have become important voices in the Indianapolis locker room.
Colts not apologizing for way they won division title
Backing into the AFC South title? The Indianapolis Colts are not apologizing to anyone for claiming the franchise’s eighth division crown since the start of the 2002 season.
Bungles — including refs’ — benefit Bengals
Give the Cincinnati Bengals plenty of credit. In a game that pitted two of the AFC’s better teams and two of the National Football League’s best young quarterbacks, the home-standing Bengals took care of business.
Many doubt Cincy runner scored on goal-line play
Did he make it or didn’t he?
Was Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis stopped on fourth down short of the end zone or did he make to the end zone without being touched?
Heavy snow appears in forecast for Colts
Growing up in Houston, Texas, Andrew Luck doesn’t have a history of playing a lot of football in the snow or in snowy conditions. But if weather forecasts for this weekend remain on track, Sunday’s AFC battle between the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals may be severely tested by the weather.
Seizing the moment: Colts’ running back Brown comes through at end in first start of season
Donald Brown has bided his time this season as the Indianapolis Colts elevated Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson to the team’s No. 1 running back position.
An Ugly ‘W’ for Indy
Yes, it was an ugly game to watch.
Luck’s analysis: ‘Great job’ by defense and Vinatieri; ‘terrible job’ by offense and ‘by me’ — but he’ll take a win
Nobody had to tell the Indianapolis Colts that Sunday’s performance against the Tennessee Titans was far from perfect.
Colts looking for execution to climb out of funk
While the Indianapolis Colts are in a bit of a funk right now, losing two of their last four games by a combined score of 78-9 (38-8 to St. Louis, 40-11 last week at Arizona), don’t expect the team’s offensive and defensive coaching staffs to make changes, whether it’s scheme or personnel.
Colts seek to right ship against Titans
Another home game, another meeting with the Tennessee Titans. The Indianapolis Colts, fresh off last week’s 40-11 road loss to Arizona, know what’s at stake against the Titans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Colts ready to go back to work
If anybody expected Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano to start spewing fire to his players in the wake of Sunday’s 40-11 National Football League loss at Arizona, they would be largely disappointed.
For second straight game, Colts fail early and often in big loss
The Indianapolis Colts had 10 days off before facing the Arizona Cardinals.
It didn’t seem to do much good.
Struggling on both sides of the ball, the Colts put together a lackluster effort in the desert, leading to a 40-11 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday.
Arians faces his old team
The early pregame warmups that NFL teams go through are usually pretty routine.
Players and coaches usually spent the time loosening up, touching base with old friends who are with the other team. A few minutes chatting up an old buddy or college teammate and then its back to the matter of hand.
Arians latest to join Colts’ reunion tour
The 2013 NFL season has turned into a reunion tour, of sorts, for the Indianapolis Colts.
Colts’ Walden to appeal one-game suspension
Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Erik Walden will be suspended for Sunday’s National Football League road game at Arizona, the NFL announced Monday.
Colts rally from 14-down, beat Titans 30-27
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts keep digging themselves into early holes — and proving they know how to come back and win.
5 things to know as Colts rally, beat Titans
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts know they have to stop falling behind early. It’s just a hard habit to break when they keep rallying for victories.
Colts looking for big-play receiver
When the Indianapolis Colts signed rookie wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers to the active roster Monday after a stint on the practice squad, it was just another indication that team officials aren’t completely happy with the way the Colts’ receiving corps has played over the last two weeks.
Colts looking to shift running game out of neutral
After getting off to a pretty good start running the football this season, the Indianapolis Colts find themselves stuck in neutral.
Indianapolis has had difficulty coming up with a consistent running attack over its last two games. That fact was never more in evidence that in last Sunday’s 38-8 National Football League loss to the St. Louis Rams.
Colts need to forget embarrassing loss, prepare for next game
Former Indiana State men’s basketball coach Tates Locke had a slogan that he liked to use when it came to putting bad games or bad performances on the back burner.
It’s safe to say that the Indianapolis Colts have been living on the National Football League edge for most of the past two years.
‘Can’t keep digging ourselves a hole’ — Pagano
Chuck Pagano Is usually a pretty even-tempered guy.
Colts back home, hoping to keep momentum going
The goal for the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday’s NFL home game with the St. Louis Rams is relatively simple. Just keep getting better.
Colts work magic again, find way to win
Good teams find a way to win. Bad or struggling teams usually find a way to lose. That’s as much of a reason — along with the play of quarterback Andrew Luck — as how the Indianapolis Colts staged their 10th fourth-quarter come-from-behind win over the past two seasons Sunday night in Houston.
Colts dodge Texans’ bullets
The Indianapolis Colts rallied for a 27-24 victory over the Texans on Sunday night after Houston coach Gary Kubiak collapsed leaving the field at halftime and was taken by ambulance to a hospital.
Colts: Road to division title leads through Houston
Never mind that the Houston Texans will come into Sunday night’s nationally televised game with the Indianapolis Colts with a 2-5 record. For Colts coach Chuck Pagano and his players, the Texans are the defending AFC South champions. In fact, Houston has won the division title the last two seasons. Enough said.
Back in stride: After bye week, Luck says Colts must overlook Texans’ 2-5 record
Vacation, in terms of a one-week bye, is now over. It’s back to work for the Indianapolis Colts, who will go into Sunday night’s nationally televised National Football League game (NBC, 8:30 p.m. kickoff) against defending AFC South champion Houston with a 5-2 record and a two-game lead in the division.
After big win over Broncos, Colts learn that standout receiver Wayne is out for season with knee injury
Chuck Pagano, like most head coaches in the National Football League, has become more or less accustomed to players getting hurt and having to miss significant time during a season. Unfortunately, that’s just part of the game. But the news Monday that wide receiver Reggie Wayne has been lost to a season-ending knee injury hit a little closer to home for Pagano for purely personal reasons.
Colts vs. Manning: Competing allegiances
Blue or Orange?
That was the question many fans grappled with as former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning returned to Lucas Oil Stadium — “the house that he built” — Sunday night for the Colts-Broncos football game.
Colts knock Broncos from unbeaten perch
Everybody expected a barnburner when the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos hooked up in National Football League play on national television Sunday night.
- More Colts Headlines
- Mathis, Colts hoping to gain defensive momentum against Texans