The return game has been a struggle for the Colts for quite a while, but on Sunday it provided a spark in a huge way.
Running back Jordan Todman received the opening kickoff at the one yard line and proceeded to take it back 99 yards, untouched, for the score. Todman spotted the Colts seven points right from the start, and the team never relinquished the lead. It was a team effort on the return with the blocking (particularly from Josh Ferguson!) and Todman’s return ability, and it was a rare but huge spark for the Colts in the return game. A little later in the game, Todman had another very nice return, this one for 61 yards that set up a field goal.
To put Todman’s performance in perspective, his 160 return yards are the most for any player in a single game this year, while he’s just one of four players to return a kickoff for a score this season. It’s even more impressive when you consider the Colts’ lackluster history in the return game: Todman’s 160 yards are the 17th-most in a single game in Colts history, and it’s the most since Terrence Wilkins had 175 against the Patriots in 2006 (Dominic Rhodes holds the Colts record for most single-game kick return yards with 236 in a game in 2004). Todman’s average of 80 yards per return is also the highest single-game average in Colts history, with the next closest being Aaron Bailey in a game in 1995 (he averaged 66 yards per return). And it’s the Colts’ 14th kickoff return for a touchdown all-time and their first since Deji Karim did it against the Texans in 2012. In fact, since 2000 the Colts have had just four kickoff return touchdowns: Dominic Rhodes in 2004, Chad Simpson in 2009, Deji Karim in 2012, and now Jordan Todman in 2016. It should also be noted that Todman’s 160 yards are the most in a single game in the Andrew Luck era, followed by Karim’s 2012 performance and then three Josh Cribbs performances in 2014.
So does this mean that Jordan Todman is the answer to the team’s struggles? Maybe, but it was also just one game against a Packers team that is now on pace for the highest yards per return average in a season in franchise history. But without a doubt, Todman provided a spark, and he deserves plenty more opportunities to try to continue to do so for indianapolis. He returned kicks for the Jaguars in 2013 and 2014 and averaged 27.4 and 25.6 yards per return, respectively. So he’s had some history returning kickoffs, but his biggest flash came on Sunday. The Colts would be wise to stick with him and give him more chances to see whether he’s the answer at kick returner or not.