The Colts, at 0-2, have done a lot of things poorly in the first two weeks of the 2015 NFL season. They have turned the football over eight times, are dead last in the league in scoring, and have been shut out in the first half of consecutive games. There's a lot to improve on. Something that might not be as obvious but that is still very important to get better at for the Colts is getting the tight ends - Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen - more involved, and head coach Chuck Pagano knows it.
"I won't make any excuses for those guys," Pagano said Tuesday. "We've got to get them involved. They're talented, talented guys and we ask them to do stuff in the run game as well as want to get them involved in the pass game and we've got to do a better job of that. When you get a holding penalty on first-and-10 and all of a sudden it's first-and-20 and then it's second-and-long and you've got third-and-eight, third-and-nine-plus, third-and-10-plus. I mean, people are going to come after you and they're going to send the house. T hey're going to force you into some max protection, keep a back in, keep a tight end in, those type of things. The way you alleviate that is you can't shoot yourself in the foot and have penalties early in the down, you've got to stay ahead of the chains and you've got to keep it third-and-manageable. That'll take care of some of that heat."
The numbers speak for themselves: through two games, the tight ends have combined to catch just four passes for 22 yards and a touchdown. Though it's a very small sample size, the Colts are using their tight ends much less than they have in the first three years of Andrew Luck's career.
|Percentage of production from tight ends
Again, it's a small sample size, but you can see that the Colts have gotten far less production from their tight ends through the first two games of this season than they are used to. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, the tight end trio of Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and Jack Doyle have run 79 total routes but have been targeted just six times, catching four passes for 22 yards and a score. In fact, 69 different tight ends in the league have been targeted at least once - and when it comes to yards per route run, Allen ranks 45th and Fleener ranks 62nd. Look at how their yards per route run has dropped off from past years:
|Yards Per Route Run (via PFF)
All of this leads to the same conclusion: the Colts aren't utilizing their tight ends enough. Last year, they became the first tight end duo ever to both catch at least eight touchdowns in the same season, and they have the potential to be dangerous receiving weapons. Especially with some of the receivers (like Andre Johnson) struggling, some not playing much (like Phillip Dorsett), and some injured (like T.Y. Hilton), it would seem like the ideal time to get the tight ends going. But instead, the Colts are having to have their tight ends pass block to compensate for the line, and then when they are running routes, they're not being targeted. The reality is that Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen could be big weapons for the offense, and the Colts need to get them more involved - something that Chuck Pagano is well aware of.