Stampede Blue's Matt Grecco tracks stats and trends pertaining to the Indianapolis Colts. He’s really good at doing this, and his midseason review is required reading. However, for this breakdown, we’re using Pro Football Focus’ Premium Stats, and if one looks at where they currently grade the Indianapolis Colts’ special teams, some applause should get directed at one Mr. Tom McMahon.
McMahon is the special teams coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. He’s in his first season in Indy, taking over for Marwan Malouf, who "mutually parted ways" with head coach Chuck Pagano and the coaching staff following the 2012 season.
Under McMahon’s leadership, the Colts are currently ranked 4th in the league in special teams, according to PFF. Just for the sake of comparison, Football Outsiders ranks Indy at No. 7.
For well over a decade, Colts special teams consistently ranked at or near the bottom of the league. The previous front office regime did not view the area as a priority. Outside of field goal kicker, special teams players simply weren’t invested in.
With Ryan Grigson in charge, he’s made it a point to bring in players like Sergio Brown, Andy Studebaker, and T.Y. Hilton. Remember, Hilton wasn’t drafted necessarily to be a big play receiver. Grigson and the Colts saw Hilton as a return threat with, potentially, some slot receiver value. Since being taken in the third round in 2012, Hilton has exceeded everyone’s expectations to the point where people are questioning whether or not it makes sense to keep Hilton returning punts.
Simple answer: Yes, they should.
Despite the best efforts of Chuck Pagano, the Colts defense – especially against the run – simply isn’t all that good. They’re currently ranked No. 27 in the league, giving up an average of 124 rushing yards-per-game. In the 8 games Indy has played this year, teams have run for over 100 yards in 6 of them.
With the defense struggling, and with an offensive line that is one of the worst in football – particularly in the interior – it is special teams play that could be an equalizer.
Now, if Coach McMahon could just get stop getting his unit’s field goals and punts blocked…