Everyone loves dynamic duos like Batman and Robin or Peanut Butter and Jelly. The Indianapolis Colts have notable players that seem to help each other perform better than they do alone. Let’s take a look at some players who go together as well as Green Eggs and Ham:
C Ryan Kelly and RB Marlon Mack
With Kelly starting at center, Marlon Mack broke the 100 yard mark for the first time in his career against the Buffalo Bills, recording 126 yards and a touchdown. Then the next week he did it again and rushed for a new career record in a game. 132 yards and this time 2 touchdowns. The following week he rushed for a measly 29 yards and only averaged 2.4 yards-per-carry. What could cause such a drastic difference? Ryan Kelly was out.
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Then, in weeks 12, 13, and 14, Ryan Kelly was inactive once again, and Marlon Mack seemed to slow down. Not breaking the 100-yard mark in any of these games he averaged 48.3 yards per game and only 1 touchdown in three weeks. Upon Ryan Kelly’s return in week 15, Mack rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns. It’s clear that Kelly is an important piece of the Indianapolis Colts rushing attack.
OG Quenton Nelson and QB Andrew Luck
There’s no question that the Colts’ offensive line has greatly impacted the offense this year. A big part of the reason the offensive line of the Colts has been impressive is due to 6th overall pick, Quenton Nelson, who started every game this year and was invited to participate in the Pro-Bowl. Allowing the least sacks out of all 32 teams this season, Andrew Luck was only brought down to the turf 18 times. This is the lowest amount of times sacked in his career (omitting his 7 game season). The lesser number of sacks shows up in his stats as well.
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This season he has a higher completion percentage than any other season. It shows that with time in a clean pocket he can deliver more accurate and catchable passes than he has in previous years. He also threw for 39 touchdowns. In 2016 when he was sacked 41 times he only threw 31 touchdowns, and in 2013 when he was sacked 31 times he only delivered 23 touchdowns. Next season could be Andrew Luck’s best season now that he has shaken off the rust from his injury and has a reformed offensive line protecting him.
S Malik Hooker and LB Darius Leonard
While there is not as much statistical evidence to show how these two benefit each other, they are one of the main reasons the Colts have a decent defense this season. Anyone following the NFL knows that Darius Leonard has had a tremendous season and has one of the strongest cases for DROY. Last season before his injury, Malik Hooker was leading the league in interceptions and looked to be a candidate for DROY as well. These young defensive studs have given life to a defense that has struggled for years.
The Colts defense was targeted the least amount of times by deep passes this season, Hooker was being avoided because of his tendency to take the ball from the quarterback. With the deep pass heavily covered, quarterbacks resort to throwing shorter passes which is where Leonard is waiting patiently to tackle, bat down, or intercept. The presence of these two studs makes it difficult for a quarterback to pass the ball and leaves the defense to force turnovers, a punt, or hold the offense to a field goal.