Will Joseph Addai Bounce Back in the 2nd Half?

Josh Satler www.profootball101.org

Coming into the season, Joseph Addai was a hot commodity.

He was like a tech stock on the Nasdaq in ’98 that had a firm green arrow next to its value.

Move midway through the 2008 season and he’s more like Golman Sachs; down but not out.

When the fantasy draft took place back in August, he was considered one of the five best players on the board. In most cases, the only players who went ahead of him were Tomlinson, Peterson, Westbrook and Brady.

And aside from Peterson and Westbrook, who have put up solid numbers—albeit not what most expected—Tomlinson and Brady have ended up being busts although Brady has an excuse. This takes us to pick #5 in about 90-95% of all drafts.

When a player goes that high, he is expected to be one of the main contributors week-in week-out. Unfortunately for Addai’s owners, this has not been the case.

It hasn’t entirely been his fault; injuries are something out of a player’s control, but aside from the few games he missed, something else has been going on in Indy which we haven’t seen for sometime: The offense has been extremely inconsistent.

If there were two staples of this league coming into 2008 it would be that Tom Brady was an iron man (127 consecutive games played prior to Week 1) and that the Colts’ offense would be dominant.

Talk about a season turned upside down.

When Indy took the field vs. Chicago on opening day, two things prevented them from executing like in year’s past: Peyton Manning was rusty after missing all of the off-season and pre-season due to knee surgery and the offensive line was decimated by injury.

And most people didn’t realize how far of a drop off there was from the top-ranked offensive line unit to the one that had rookies and back-ups sprinkled in.

For any running game to be successful, the offense must be able to pass. Otherwise teams will cheat their Safetys up to the line and leave their corner backs on an island. Passing keep defenses honest.

The Colts are a timing offense which means that balls are thrown to spots, not players. When Peyton would drop back in the 1st half of the season, he would consistently find defenders in his face and the result was a lot of sacks and poorly thrown balls.

And since defenses were able to pressure Manning without having to bring added pressure, their secondary could play zone and lock down the receivers.

Just as the line was breaking down in pass protection, it was failing to create holes for Addai to run through. The Colts don’t feature a power running game like the New York Giants; they run a lot of misdirection and cutbacks and Addai excels at this. With few holes and running lanes to run through, Addai was a non-factor.

As if this wasn’t enough, the defense wasn’t doing its part either by forcing three-and-outs and getting the ball back into the hands of the offense. It was allowing five-minute plus drives and points on the board so when Indy retook control of the ball, it was usually facing a deficit and forced into passing mode.

That was the 1st half. Now comes the second and things already look brighter. Indy’s late season schedule, initially rated as one of the toughest in the NFL, is not nearly as daunting as it was coming into the season. Addai’s finally healthy now and so is his line—two major components to success—and the defense is beginning to raise its play and keep the team in games.

This will add plays on offense and with the likelihood of playing in close games or with a lead, it will allow Addai to see more carries and wear defenses down late in the 4th quarter.

So, if Peyton and his offense can once again find the chemistry it enjoyed for as long as most remember, Addai will be the directly beneficiary and his fantasy numbers will once again go through the roof, thus making everyone forget everything to this point and allowing him to justify that lofty 1st round draft selection back in August.

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