There was a lot of talk about the tight end position in Indianapolis this offseason, perhaps more so than any other subject, and it was all about the decision the team had to make between Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. The Colts decided to re-sign Allen and let Fleener walk, but another tight end move is paying big dividends this year too.
The Colts quietly extended a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Jack Doyle, bringing him back on a one-year, $1.671 million deal. That has proven to be a tremendous bargain for Indy through three games.
Doyle has caught 13 passes (on 15 targets) for 137 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 10.5 yards per catch and having seven of his receptions go for a first down. To put those numbers in perspective, Doyle is second on the team in receptions, third in receiving yards, first in receiving touchdowns, tied for second in receiving first downs, and is second on the team in percentage of targets caught (13 of 15, 86.7%) for Colts players with at least two targets. Doyle has really, really stepped up in the receiving game for the Colts this year and has been one of the most reliable targets for Andrew Luck so far this year.
“Not almost [about it],” head coach Chuck Pagano said after the game Sunday. “No, you are right, he is a dependable, dependable guy. He is a guy that comes in every single day and you know exactly what you are going to get. He has improved in the run game, his blocking and obviously his route running and his catch ability and run-after-the-catch has gotten better since he has been here. Again, there is just a trust factor and he is a trustworthy guy and he is always going to be where he is supposed to be and is going to be in the right spot and he finds a way to get himself open and make critical catches for us. I am proud of him.”
My biggest question about Jack Doyle entering this season was about how well he’d be able to step up into a bigger role. He had been very impressive as the third tight end in recent seasons, but could he handle a larger role as the number two tight end? The answer, at least through three games, is yes. He has proven to be a better all-around tight end than Fleener was with Indianapolis, and Doyle has helped ensure that the hole left in the receiving game by Fleener’s departure doesn’t cause the offense to miss a beat. Doyle has stepped in and filled that receiving tight end role admirably, and he deserves a lot of credit for it.