Indianapolis Colts – RB Ahmad Bradshaw Is Not the Answer for Colts

by Kent Sterling

Ahmad Bradshaw's signing would not help the Colts in 2013.

Ahmad Bradshaw’s signing would not help the Colts in 2013.

Running backs don’t get healthier with age.  Even Ahmad Bradshaw – a 27-year-old coming off a 1,015 yard season for the New York Giants has seen his best days.

The Colts need a little help at running back returning Vick Ballard, Donald Brown, and Delone Carter, none of whom is especially dynamic or likely capable of being the long term answer in the backfield for a team trying to diversify its attack.

The Colts threw a lot last year, ranking sixth in the NFL with 628 pass attempts, but only 17th in yards per attempt.  The rushing offense ranked 22nd in yards, and 26th in yards per attempt.

The rushing firm of Ballard, Brown, and Carter distinguished itself only in spurts, but the signing of running backs who have surgery to replace a foot screw in February do not pay quick dividends in September.

The Colts are forced into a position where signing Bradshaw is a consideration because this free agent class intersected with a draft class bereft of great talent at running back.  A flawed Eddie Lacy was the best of the draftees, and Bradshaw has been the #1 free agent.

Teams do not let a productive running back hit the open market, and the Giants didn’t just allow it, they forced it by cutting Bradshaw to save roughly $2.5 million against the cap.

Bradshaw’s per carry production receded every year of his career following his rookie season until 2012, when he reverted to his average yards per carry of 4.6.

Franchises in panic work free agency as hard as the Colts are, and the signing of Bradshaw would be a move born of hysteria to try to find a way to prove that the 11-5 record in 2012 was not an aberration, which of course it was.

Math would suggest that the Colts should have won 7.2 games last year, according to  That means the Colts outpaced math by 3.8 wins, which is almost unprecedented for an 11-win team.

A signing like Bradshaw is not unprecedented.  In 2011, the St. Louis Rams signed two veteran running backs – Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood.  Both were in their late 20s, and both crapped out.

Is Bradshaw worth a flyer as a veteran minimum guy?  I don’t think so.  His signing will reek of desperation, and I’ll bet that if signed by anyone this offseason, Bradshaw does not open the season on an active roster.

Buying a pretty car with a racy motor but also a history of mechanical failures is a risky business.  Nothing wrong with taking a peek under the hood, but evaluate it based on what it is today, not what it was four years ago.

8 thoughts on “Indianapolis Colts – RB Ahmad Bradshaw Is Not the Answer for Colts

  1. Mark Mellett

    27 years old and done? Seriously?

    You don’t think if SOMEONE puts him in a 2 back set he will not perform?

    You don’t think his pay in THAT regard will not be equal to the expected results?

    Cars have ZERO to do with people. Your math, as it regards the Colts is also flawed.

    You sir, are a talking head. Nothing more.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      The proof will be in the pudding. The thing you have to ask is why the Giants cut him, and if the answer is because of the many injuries to his ankle and foot, he’s a problem.

      The human body is a machine, as is a car. The more things wrong with them, the likelier they are to fail.

      I am not only a talking head, I am an entire talking body, and I’m injury free.

      1. Jestyr

        You sir are a whole talking body, it is ashame that most of your words and thoughts are coming out of your arse, Ballard gets stronger as the game wears on, and is a far better back than you give him credit, Bradshaw is a third down back, if we get him and he can take being demoted to that position, his blocking ability and catching abilities are prime for that position. Lot’s of quality backs have come in the later rounds , and Ballard is a golden pick.

      2. ColeM

        The human body is not simply a machine. Cars don’t have will, until recently they didn’t have any type of processing unit. To reduce the game to mechanics and math is to make football more like baseball. And as you said, the proof is in the pudding. The Colts outperformed statistically, which is actually a frequent occurrence for the franchise, all the way through the Manning Era. Statistics lie. So the question is not simply, is Bradshaw healthy? It includes, does he still have the will and fight to play the game at a high level. He won’t be the next Adrian Peterson, but that doesn’t mean he is the next Cadillac Williams either. Pro-Football reference is for the lazy and those outside of the game. Nobody finds a diamond in the rough based on statistics. You have to work out players and evaluate their skills, personality, and work ethic. So while you might be comfortable considering yourself a machine, but the best scouts in the league strive to take their analysis much further then your wasteful commentary.

        1. kentsterling Post author

          Will has very little to do with production. Adrian Peterson didn’t run for 2,097 yards last year because of his will. He’s a a spectacularly gifted back with incredible speed and vision. Kawhi Leonard is and incredible defender because of his length, not will.

          There are thousands of athletes with equivalent will. Those who succeed have unique athletic gifts, including the ability to heal.

          Does will wane as an athlete ages? No, but athleticism does, and that’s why athletes are forced into retirement.

          There are no diamonds in the rough at the age of 27. Players are who they are, and Bradshaw is a frequently injured running back who has moved beyond his prime.

          The human body is a machine that deteriorates over time, and Bradshaw’s time is past.

          By the way, the Colts outperformed under Manning because as the record moves further from the median, the statistical estimation errs toward 8-8, so a 14-2 team will never be estimated to have a 14 win season. The closer a team is to 8-8 the less profound the statistical wobble. For an 11-5 team to have 7.2 estimated wins is pretty damn incredible.

          I’ll make it even simpler for you; advancing age is bad – always.

          You sound a lot like the scout for the Oakland A’s in “Moneyball.” Go ahead and evaluate personality.

          Thirty-two teams have decided at this point to pass on Bradshaw, and one fired him. Someone will take a shot that he can be the player he was, and they won’t like the results.

          I’ll accept your contrition then.

  2. aWESome

    This guy is retarded. Bradshaw wont be the main back. Ballard will be there as well. Also Bradshaw has very good hands and is a great blocker as well. Maybe wont be as productive as he used to be but his hands and blocking skill will be exactly what the colts need in a running back. Idk if you have paid any attention to football but Bradshaw still did decent last season and also news flash…when have the colts ever been a team that relies on the run game? Bradshaw will give them extra power at the running back they haven’t had in a while as well as opening the passing game

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Signing a mediocre running back will only make a team more mediocre. The Giants cut Bradshaw, and they have David Wilson, Da’Rei Scott, Ryan Torain, Michael Cox, and Andre Brown to carry the load in 2013. Wilson has shown flashes, but that lineup of backs isn’t exactly Jim Brown, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders.

  3. Nick

    I, like most Colts fans, get excited at the prospect of getting an Ed Reed, or and Ahmad Bradshaw. However, I have to agree with Kent. First off, 27 for a running back is generally the twilight of their career. They just take too much punishment to be productive into their late 20’s and into their 30s. Some guys can…but most don’t. And although Bradshaw has been good…he has been far from great. Even when he was having career seasons, he still wasn’t an “elite” back. If he is injured, and past his prime, and asking more money than he’s worth, I say pass. It might be a good option to have him to back up Ballard,but I doubt Bradshaw would take a demotion and a pay cut. I think Ballard is going to play better this year with the Oline upgrades, and unfortunately Brown will be the second back. I love Ballard, and think he can be the #1 guy for years to come, but Brown needs to go, and hopefully next years draft will yield some fresh talent later in round 1 (because the colts will win another 11 or 12 next season. I also think we will see the emergence of the Fullback position this season to help share the load with Ballard, and Flee er and Allen will emerge as the NFL’s most dynamic pair at tight end.
    Basically if you look at Ballard’s stats for the year, I don’t think you are getting the whole story on how capable this guys is to be a threat and make big plays consistently for the Colts. When other players slumped after the 10th game, his numbers kept improving. I think he’s earned the right to be on the field as the #1 back. Can’t wait to see how this unfolds.
    I usually disagree with what Kent says, particularly when it involves stats and the Colts’ wins last season. But I respect the fact that he puts an actual opinion out there.


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