With so much negative surrounding the Indianapolis Colts this season, there are still some players having very good seasons despite the team’s record or lack of attention. At 3-8 there’s no mistaking that the Colts have been hard to watch this season, yet one of those who are still stepping up is tight end Jack Doyle.
Ultimately, Jack Doyle has gone from role player, to No. 2 option at tight end to being where he is now — the undoubted No. 1 tight end on the roster and playing like it too. I don’t think many felt that Doyle wouldn’t come through when the Colts allowed Coby Fleener leave in free agency, nor did they fret when Chris Ballard traded away Dwayne Allen. But what matters, is neither did Doyle.
His supporters will say he is a great utility option, but that he’s also an undervalued option in the passing game while his detractors will say that he’s a good option, but not a true No. 1 at the position. Depending on where you come down on what a ‘true No. 1 at the position’ really means to you, both could be true.
However, one thing is unmistakable, Doyle is as trusted as any tight end in the game to his quarterback. Doyle has been one of the most reliable in the game, the past two seasons, when it comes down to it.
Through Doyle’s first three seasons with the Colts he held a 81 percent catch rate with 35 receptions of his first 43 targets. Last season Doyle really began to get fed quite a bit more with an increased role doubling his receiving yardage (584 yards) from his first three years (209 yards) combined. Additionally, Doyle hauled in 5 touchdowns last season versus only notching 3 through his first three seasons.
This season Doyle is already only 40 receiving yards away from matching 2016’s production with 5 games left to play. We’ve seen how well Allen has worked out for the New England Patriots thus far, largely being used as an in-line blocker as opposed to a receiving threat. Meanwhile, Doyle has stepped up to the plate, returning to form, despite having some uncharacteristic early season struggles.
Doyle has been so good and reliable, in fact, that over the past two seasons — among tight ends with at least 150 targets — that he holds the best catch rate (77.6%) in the league. Granted, he’s not gotten the targets that someone like Travis Kelce has (203) in that time span, but he’s done his damage the past two seasons with 3 different quarterbacks, and 4 over the past three years.
Doyle comes in at 7th in the league at the position in receiving yards over the past two seasons with an average of 23 fewer targets than the 6 tight ends above him. With those extra 23 targets this season, Doyle would be top-5 at the position in yardage as well.
On the other side of this argument, Doyle has only 2 touchdowns this season whereas he caught 5 last year. The Colts lack of success inside the red zone likely accounts for this decrease in his production. The Colts have allowed the second-most sacks inside the red zone (7) this year with only 3 passing touchdowns of which Doyle has 2 of those. If you add in there Jacoby Brissett’s completion rate (35.7%) in this area of the field and you have the rest of the story.
Re-signing Doyle this past offseason has been one of many quality decisions for Ballard in his first season as GM. Hoping that the offensive playcalling results in more targets inside the 20-yard line, and the execution allows for some of those to be successful.