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Chuck Pagano on underutilizing Dwayne Allen: "We're going to address that this year"

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The Colts underutilized tight end Dwayne Allen in the passing game last year, but it sounds like they are committed to fixing that. "We're going to address that this year," head coach Chuck Pagano said recently.

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When the Indianapolis Colts gave tight end Dwayne Allen a four-year, $29.4 million extension earlier this offseason, it was expected that the move meant that they would use him more in 2016.  Seeing just 29 targets in the passing game last season, Allen was vastly underutilized, but the money the Colts gave him indicated a focus on getting him involved in all areas of the offense.

Though it was expected based on the contract details, head coach Chuck Pagano confirmed as much while speaking last week at the owners meetings: the Colts will utilize Dwayne Allen more next season.

"I'm excited that we got Dwayne back," Pagano said, according to Colts.com.  "He's a great combo guy, gives you versatility there.  He's one of the better blocking tight ends in the league.  Obviously with Andrew down and circumstances, things like that, we didn't get him the ball as much as we'd like to.  We're going to address that this year.  Love all the guys and want them all back, but we all know the reality of the National Football League [is] you're not able to do that."

With Coby Fleener out of the picture and signed by the Saints, Allen is likely to become more of a focal point in the Colts offense.  It's clear that they still love his blocking ability - in fact, that's one of the main reasons they brought him back - but they also are committed to getting him more involved in the passing game.  His 29 targets last season were incredibly low, and Allen has joked a number of times about how it doesn't even seem like it was that high.  In order for the contract the Colts gave to him to make sense, the tight end will need to become more of a factor in the passing game, and it sounds like that will be a focus for the team this offseason and into the 2016 season.

One of the big pluses that the Colts and Allen have going for them in that regard is that Rob Chudzinski is established as the offensive coordinator and will get to work with the offense this offseason after taking over as coordinator mid-season.  Chud is known for working with tight ends, as he has coached the position for the University of Miami, the Cleveland Browns, and the San Diego Chargers.  During his time at Miami he coached three future first round tight ends, while with San Diego he coached Antonio Gates to his two best seasons.  Last year, Chud was working with Pep Hamilton's system and not trying to change too much, but now he should be able to implement his own system, one that will likely prioritize the tight end even more.  That's good news for Allen, and it sounds as if the Colts are committed to using him more in the passing game in 2016.

The team will still count on him as a blocker, however, as his fit as a versatile tight end is what general manager Ryan Grigson said was the difference in the decision to re-sign Allen.

"I would say scheme would be the underlying factor," Grigson said last week, according to Colts.com.  "Dwayne's skillset is pretty broad, but he's a very powerful and tenacious blocker at the point of attack.  And I would say that was one of the strongest factors in that decision, because we all know what Coby can do in the passing game, but Dwayne brings a stouter presence inline that we need in this offensive scheme."

After Dwayne Allen signed his contract with the Colts, a number of people suggested that he was overpaid.  Based on his production from the past few seasons (and especially last year), there's really no argument that you could make to suggest otherwise.  But if the Colts use Allen correctly and if the tight end plays a major role in the offense like he's expected to, the move could wind up looking better in the long run.