While many Colts fans complain about his lack of consistency or the flags he sometimes draws or the trash talking we see him do on occasion, the fact is Garçon adds an element to the Colts WR corps that they have sorely lacked the last two years.
Big play ability.
Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark are big play machines. However, as we saw in the game against the Patriots, when teams focus their defense on shutting down those two players, it requires players like Garçon, Austin Collie, or perhaps Tom Santi to step up. Against the Patriots, it was Garçon's impressive 29 yard, over-the-shoulder TD catch in the fourth quarter that started Indy's dramatic comeback. Against the Ravens, Garçon's 66 yard reception set up Indy's TD near the goal line; a mind blowing, one-handed TD grab by Dallas Clark.
While players like Collie and Santi have shown dependability, and while Reggie Wayne continues to absolutely dominate the NFL at the receiver position, Garcon has provided a spark for the Colts offense which has been missing since Marvin Harrison injured his knee in 2007. Teams are now forced to take him seriously, respecting his speed and physical play. This has opened up more opportunities for others, like the before mentioned Tom Santi.
A few days ago, we compared Garçon's development with Reggie Wayne during his second year in the league (2002). Back then, Wayne was used much the same way Garçon is today. Qadry Ismail (who today is one of the better talking heads on ESPN's football post-game shows) was the second receiver, starting alongsideat that time. Wayne, who battled injuries in 2001 and 2002, played outside and in the slot (again, like Garçon today).
After 11 weeks, check out Garcon compared to Wayne in 2002:
Garçon (2009)- 32 catches, 511 yards, 16 yards per reception, 3 TDs
Wayne (2002)- 49 catches, 716 yards, 14.6 yards per reception, 4 TDs
It's also important to keep in mind that wide receivers typically take three years before they develop into truly good players. It took Larry Fitzgerald that long before he started dominating. The same is true for Andre Johnson, who plays tonight against the Titans. Garçon's numbers look even more impressive when you compare him to Anthony Gonzalez's second year numbers (57 catches, 664 yards, 11.4 yards a reception, 4 TDs).
Also worth noting: All the receivers I have compared Garçon to in this story are first round picks. Garçon is a 6th rounder who played college ball at Division III Mount Union. I know we all know this fact, and that it is taking on a status similar to "Marcus Pollard only played basketball in college." But when you really look at what this kid is accomplishing, when you REALLY step back and look at the big picture, it is hard not to be impressed.
This is why I don't get caught up in the moments of inconsistency. Young receivers screw up. This is why coaches like Bill Belichick hate playing young receivers. They run the wrong routes. They drop easy passes. They forget assignments. Garçon is no different, and we have seen him screw up and look foolish in certain moments. However, what this kid has also shown is resilience, and you can tell players like Peyton and Reggie are impressed with him.
So, consider me fully on board the Pierre Garçon bandwagon. I think this kid is a keeper, and likely the longterm solution as the #2 receiver. With Anthony Gonzalez likely to return to the practice field this week, this gives the Colts five excellent WRs (including Hank Baskett) to really spread the field. Throw Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai in there, and the passing game starts looking even scarier.