When I gave five bold predictions for the Colts in 2014 before last season started, one of the predictions that I listed was that "Pep would become popular." As I wrote at the time, "Ultimately, Pep Hamilton is one of the only people that can stand in the way of a great year from the offense and Andrew Luck. And rather than stand in the way, I expect Pep to be a great help."
Looking back on the 2014 season now with things over with and the offseason here, I'm not sure if Pep Hamilton is incredibly popular among Colts fans now, but without a doubt he's more popular than he was a year ago at this time and, honestly, for those people still not happy with the job he has done it is likely more of a case of preconceived notions than actual judgement on his 2014 season.
Entering the year, there were certainly concerns that were warranted, and those concerns continued after the Colts' week two loss in which they ran the football at a crucial time instead of putting the ball in the hands of Andrew Luck. But from there, Hamilton and the Colts embraced a welcome approach, and they transitioned much more into a passing team led by Luck. They passed to set up the run instead of running to set up the pass.
Under Hamilton in 2014, Andrew Luck enjoyed the best season of his short career so far, breaking the Colts' single-season passing yardage record (4,761) and leading the entire NFL in touchdown passes (40). Furthermore, only two players threw more passes this season than Luck's 616, highlighting even more how the Colts embraced their franchise quarterback.
The Colts offense had a very successful season, finishing third in the league in yards per game (406.6), sixth in the league in points per game (28.6), tied for sixth in yards per play (5.9), third in first downs per game (23.2), and, since this is an article about Pep Hamilton, they were fifth in the league in Hamilton's favorite stat: time of possession (averaging 31:54 time of possession per game). There certainly were areas where the Colts struggled (especially turnover margin, in which the Colts finished -5 and tied for 22nd in the league), but overall it was a good season.
For Hamilton personally, he improved as well. His play calling was better and his approach was perhaps the most significant area of improvement. As we already noted, he did a much better job this season of playing to his strengths, and the Colts moving completely away from a fullback and to a passing offense really highlighted that.
It's hard to complain about Pep Hamilton when looking at the 2014 season, as he was a very good offensive coordinator who enabled his players to have success. He received a lot of head coaching talk throughout the year, but he never formally interviewed with a team - partly because of the Colts' playoff success and the fact that the Raiders and Bills (who both requested to talk with Pep) filled their roles before the Colts were done playing. He'll be returning for a third season with the Colts in 2015, and that's a very good thing. The Colts' offense showed a lot of improvement in 2014, and their offensive coordinator did as well.
Before long, Pep Hamilton will be an NFL head coach. It's really a matter of when, not if, for Hamilton, but for at least one more season he'll be staying in Indianapolis, and that's a good thing for the Colts and their franchise quarterback.
For more in-depth analysis of the Colts' 2014 season, check out Josh Wilson's other position reviews: