Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton stole the show in the Colts' Thursday night victory against the Texans, catching 9 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown.
Head coach Chuck Pagano spoke from a defensive coordinator's perspective today when asked how difficult it is to prepare for playing Hilton. "It's tough," Pagano agreed. "Anytime you face somebody with that skill set, it's extremely tough. It makes it even tougher when you have a bunch of other guys around him that you've got to take care of it. You've got to make a decision on how you're going to handle it. If you want to play a light box and put two guys in the backend on him and hopefully stop the run with seven or you've got pick and choose and try to do the best you can. Load the box and stop the run then you've get him one-on-one. You've got a bunch of other guys. You've got tight ends. You've got other wide outs. You've got runners. We've got a lot of options, so it makes it difficult as a coordinator to make a decision. Usually what you go into is you say look, this guy, this guy and this guy, if it's one, two, three guys, we're going to do the best we can to make sure that these guys don't beat us. If you can take them away and make them beat us left-handed, that's how we're going to do it."
Pagano then had fun when asked whether Hilton's size is an advantage. "Yeah, they can't see him, that's why he's getting behind everybody," Pagano said, laughing. "I don't know. Maybe he looks invisible out there just because he's so small and he's moving so damn fast. They're probably looking around going, ‘God dang, he got behind us again. It's like a ghost.' (more laughter) I don't know. I'm just glad we got him."
Colts fans certainly echo Pagano's sentiments about being glad that he's on the Colts and not another team. Hilton is currently tied for fifth in the league in receptions (40), fourth in the league in yards (604), and tied for third in the league in first downs (30). As we already mentioned, on Thursday night he caught 9 passes for 223 yards and a score.
As expected, Hilton played the role of humble star today when he spoke to the media about Thursday's performance. "I think it was a good performance," Hilton acknowledged. "I did some good things and I did some bad things. I've just got to work on my overall game."
"I just was playing and running the play that coach called and just having fun," Hilton added. He also said that the abundance of receiving options the Colts have isn't a problem, but instead that, "when you're number is called, make sure you're there to make the plays. 12 (Andrew Luck) is going to do a great job finding you, you just make sure you beat your man and he'll find you with the ball."
Luck agreed with Hilton, saying that the number of weapons the Colts have is a good thing and helps them a lot. "Yeah, [Hilton's] obviously a big, big playmaker and I think if you focus too much on Reg (Reggie Wayne), you focus too much on the tight ends, Hakeem (Nicks), T.Y.'s going to bite you. If you focus on T.Y., then the other guys are going to get you. That's the beauty of the offense, and T.Y.'s showing you he's a big playmaker that I think has also shown that he's a wide receiver. He's not just a guy that runs deep and catches balls. He's a true wide receiver and I know Reg has helped him along that path, everybody is helping each other along that path. He's a heck of a football player."
As Luck noted, it's hard to watch Hilton and not see the influence of Reggie Wayne on him, especially in the area of route running. It's nice having one of the league's all-time greats there coaching you - it's great of Reggie to take the time to do so and great of Hilton to take what Reggie says to heart and work on it. The result has been a great duo of wide receivers, with Reggie already a star and Hilton quickly emerging as one.
"You expect those big numbers out of him, you certainly do," Luck said of Hilton's performance Thursday night. "I think he's earned that expectation from people."
There's no surprise when he goes off for a big night like he did last week, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. I think Chuck Pagano summed it up best when he said that, "I'm just glad we got him." Andrew Luck and the rest of Colts Nation agrees.