The third installment of this off-season series will take a look at the Colts receivers. So yes, this is going to be a long one.
Obviously on a team with Andrew Luck throwing the ball, the receivers are going to play a key role. In the past four years, the Colts have used multiple high draft picks on receivers (tight ends are for a different day), and have signed many a veteran receiver to short contracts, all of which amounted to one season.
This year, the Colts rolled into the season with a fairly clear cut order on the depth chart. T.Y. Hilton would be the top guy, Donte Moncrief would be number two, and Phillip Dorsett would be the number three.
It kind of worked out that way.
In total, six wide receivers caught passes this year, three of them scoring touchdowns.
But let’s take a more in depth look at the Colts receivers.
And of course, we’ll start with the Colts top dog in Hilton.
I’ve written numerous times, especially going into the season, that I felt Moncrief was a better receiver than Hilton. Of course, after writing that a lot of (correctly) killed me for saying that in the comments. So yeah, I was wrong.
Hilton was lights out this season. The receiver led the NFL in yards with 1,448.
And as Hilton went, so did the Colts. In games where Hilton had over 80 yards receiving, the Colts were 7-2 (losses against Houston the second time and Oakland). When Hilton was held under 80 yards, the Colts were 1-6.
After the bye, it seemed like the Colts coaching staff figured this out as well. Hilton was far more involved with the offense coming off of the bye.
In other numbers across the league, Hilton finished top 10 in receptions, third in yards per game, first in plays of 20+ yards, and second in first downs.
Those are numbers of an elite number one receiver.
He did only have six touchdowns. That, though, is in large part to Luck having different, and bigger, red zone targets. One of whom is:
Moncrief’s role this year was red zone scoring. And it was great.
In games that Moncrief played in, if the Colts got the ball close to the end zone, there was a good chance that Moncrief would be the target. We knew it, the opponents knew it, and he still scored.
In total, Moncrief saw action in only nine games due to some injuries, in two of those contests he exited early due to injuries. In the other seven, he had a touchdown in every game. And yes, that did lead the team in touchdowns.
I still think that the Colts could stand to utilize Moncrief more in the open field as his size is a great compliment to what Hilton offers you. That being said, if the Colts just want to use him in the red zone, and he scores every game, I guess that’s fine too.
Oh, Phillip Dorsett.
I had high hopes for the receiver after an injury plagued season a year ago. And he did, technically, have better numbers than Moncrief did. He also played in six more games, so there’s that to factor in as well.
But let’s look at on field performance. In weeks 1 and 4, Dorsett was excellent. In fact, I believe he was the team’s leading receiver against the Lions. Then something changed. Maybe it was how Dorsett was used, or maybe teams saw him on film and adjusted accordingly, but Dorsett’s play regressed. His route running (when not running a post or fly) was average at best. And he dropped his share of passes (he’s not alone in that though!).
After the bye, Dorsett’s targets and catches dropped significantly. This was in conjunction with increased targets to Hilton, of course, but we also began to see the emergence of Chester Rogers as a receiver, especially in the last four weeks of the season.
I would say the verdict is still out on Dorsett. But after getting, erroneously, taken in the first round, he has high expectations. Fair or not.
I’m going to lump Rogers, Quan Bray, and Devon Street into this category. The three combined for 23 catches, so they didn’t all need their own section.
Rogers obviously saw the most action out of this group. Both Rogers and Bray saw more time at kick and punt return than anything else. But near the end of the regular season, proved to be solid third or fourth option receivers as well.