The Indianapolis Colts are in a good place heading into the 2019 NFL season. After bouncing back from missing the playoffs for three straight years, the Colts found themselves in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. While things didn’t quite work out, their future is bright. As good as Andrew Luck is, the Colts’ success will depend on the production of RB Marlon Mack.
Last season, Mack rushed for 908 yards and nine touchdowns on 195 carries while netting 17 receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown. Solid numbers on the rushing side but he will need to do more. What makes this an important season for Mack is that the Indianapolis decided to place their future in his hands.
The Colts entered the offseason with more than $100M at their disposal. While in need of a few defensive pieces, they may have overspent for a WR by signing former Carolina Panther Devon Funchess. But it was who they didn’t sign that had fans scratching their head.
How many times will a player like Le’Veon Bell become available to the open market? As the news swirled that the Pittsburgh Steelers will just let him walk, the Colts should have been the first team to bring him in. Despite his high salary demands, Bell is one of those players who can change a team’s single season. Would it have been a risk? Yes. But one that was worth taking.
Throughout his career (5 seasons), Bell has rushed for 5336 yards and 35 touchdowns on 1229 carries. He’s also contributed 312 receptions for 2660 yards and seven touchdowns. What’a more amazing is that in one of his seasons, he only played in six games due to injury. Bell is that special player.
Adding Bell with Mack this offseason would have given the Colts possibly the best backfield in the NFL. Now, they will lean on the third-year player with hopes he can become what Bell is. Is that a tall order to ask? Yes, it is.
For passing on Le’Veon Bell, the Colts are asking Marlon Mack has to step up in a big way.
The Indianapolis Colts are strapped with money. They play in a division (AFC South) that has four teams capable of winning nine or more games in 2019. Luck is back in Pro Bowl form, the defense finished the season ranked 16th in passing yards and allowed 8t the fewest rushing yards. A young team with a chip on their shoulder.
To continue their reign atop the division, the Colts must do better than 20th in rushing. While most teams have gone to a tw0-back set, Mack must prove that he’s capable of not only handling the load but producing as a top-level threat. He does indeed have to prove he’s better than Bell. If not, then fans and the organization will begin to question why they didn’t go after the All-Pro back this offseason.
The saying is that pressure burst pipes. For Mack, this will hold true if he declines. In 2018, Luck attempted 639 passes (2nd most in NFL). Out of those 639, 124 of those were to the RB’s. Mack is not the first option out the backfield as a receiver. That goes to Nyheim Hines who caught 63 passes on 81 targets.
So, maybe the Colts figured they were set in the backfield with Hines catching the ball and Mack solely focused on running. The best part is the money. Both players are still locked into rookie deals so why spend unnecessary funds? But Bell is Bell. He’s proven and if the Colts are serious about dethroning the New England Patriots, keeping pace with the Kansas City Chiefs, and challenging for a Super Bowl, it’s moves like this that must take place.