Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton tried hard this morning to avoid labeling his offensive system. When asked if his offense was a tight end driven offense, Hamilton wisely remarked:
"I think we learned a great lesson about pegging or coining a phrase that would ultimately label our offense. But no, it's a playmaker driven offense. A score-first playmaker driven offense. All of the above."
What he's referring to, of course, is when last year he would insist that the Colts wanted to be a run first offense. He's learned that, regardless of what the offense actually looks like on the field, he has to be smart about the way that he describes it too. This year, he's learned to be careful what he calls his offense. But even though he carefully avoided labels, he still gave us plenty to write about.
Score first, playmaker driven. The score first aspect isn't anything new, as Hamilton actually mentioned it back in May about how the Colts were going to be a score first team. The implication, of course, was that more so than trying to run the ball the Colts were going to try to score. But really, that's redundant. If any offensive coordinator isn't about scoring points first, then he's in the wrong job. Everybody knows that Pep Hamilton is about scoring points, so his statement about being a score first team wasn't so much as an insight into the offense as a more clever way to label his offense, since fans still haven't forgotten about the run first offense talk. Hamilton didn't downplay the importance of running the ball back in May and he didn't today either,
The playmaker driven part is interesting. He said that in response to a question on whether they'd be tight end driven, and Hamilton essentially said that their offense isn't built around one position in particular but that they'll try to get their playmakers the ball. If that's really true, then it means the Colts will be passing the ball quite a bit, and in particular, it means T.Y. Hilton will be getting the ball a lot.
Hamilton also talked about the use of the no-huddle, hurry-up offense:
"I think it's starting to become a trend in the National Football League and considering our first two opponents, our defense, they need for us to give them somewhat of a look of what to expect against Denver and Philadelphia. But you're right, we were able to change up our different tempos over the course of last season. By the end of the year, we felt like the up-tempo offense gave us a heck of an opportunity to feature our playmakers as well as kind of wear the opponent down. Ultimately when we start game planning our opponents, we'll find ways to put our guys in a position to make plays. We're not sure or certain that it will be one specific tempo at this point."
Hamilton is absolutely right about how later in the year the Colts were doing a good job of mixing up the up-tempo offense, and it showed in the results on the field. The problem with the Colts offense last year was that for much of the season it was too predictable. The Colts would go with a running offense until they realized that wasn't working and they were down already, at which point they switched to a no-huddle passing offense. The real key they needed was balance - mixing things up and balancing it out. Pep Hamilton got much, much better at that in the last month of the season and hopefully they'll enter this season mixing it up too.
There's a lot of hope for this year's Colts offense, and there are only two real reasons why it shouldn't be one of, if not the, best in the league: 1) the offensive line, and 2) the playcalling. The line, while it won't be great, should be better than last year, and Pep Hamilton is a very smart guy who should be a strength to the offense. If he mixes up the no huddle and truly focuses on getting his playmakers the ball, it'll be very good news for the Colts offense.