It might be easy to wonder what more T.Y. Hilton could do.
After all, in just five seasons in the league Hilton has caught 374 passes for 5,861 yards and 30 touchdowns, averaging 15.7 yards per catch, while he’s recorded four 1,000 yard seasons, 24 100 yard games, and three Pro Bowl appearances, while also leading the league in receiving yards in 2016. He has firmly established his place in the Colts record books already as one of the most prolific wide receivers in franchise history, ranking sixth in career receptions, fifth in career yards, tenth in career receiving touchdowns, seventh in career yards per catch (minimum of 100 receptions), third in 1,000 yard seasons, and third in 100 yard games. That’s incredibly impressive company for a guy entering his sixth year, especially considering this is a franchise that boasts the likes of Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Raymond Berry.
So, again, what does he have left to do?
“It’s a great question,” head coach Chuck Pagano said this week. “I think even T.Y., who led the league in yards – scoring points, getting in the end zone more. He can become a better route runner. He can become better playing without the ball. Even at his stature, we’re going to ask him to be involved when we do hand the ball off. Sanjay [Lal] has done a great job, with not only T.Y., but that whole group as far as the competitive nature and the physical part of the game that we want them all to play at when they don’t have the ball in their hand. Whether it’s blocking in the run game or if we’ve got a guy opposite side of the field catches the ball and he’s traversing the field or cutting back, whatever, and the guy hustling and making one more block down the field to spring somebody. Just the details of route running and scoring points and creating big plays and run after catch and all those kind of things.”
That’s fair analysis from the head coach, as even though everyone realizes just how good Hilton is already, he can keep improving. One of the main things is indeed getting into the end zone more, as if there’s been one criticism of him it’s typically that he doesn’t put up the monster touchdown numbers. He has improved his route running greatly since entering the league and is pretty good in that area, but there’s always room to be better and work on those little details.
Hilton has enjoyed working with new wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal - Hilton called him “more detailed than any coach I’ve ever had” - and he’s seeing it pay off in an emphasis on those little details.
“Coming out of my breaks even that much faster, whether it’s a slight angle with my feet, or just running out of my break faster,” he explained, according to the Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder. “And I’m seeing [results] as I’m out there going against the DBs.”
With an emphasis on those details and on areas like route running and scoring more touchdowns, it’s possible that we could see an even better T.Y. Hilton in 2017. That’s what the Colts are hoping for, at least, because no matter how good a player is there’s always some room to keep getting better.