There isn’t a more reliable pass catcher on the Indianapolis Colts’ roster than tight end Jack Doyle. Granted, his 2017 season featured more fumbles than the previous four seasons in his career combined, yet, we’re still only talking about him putting the ball on the turf twice.
Both of his fumbles were in the first six weeks of the season and Doyle was as sure-handed as ever from that point on. From Week 7 to the end of the season, Doyle only failed to haul in two or more of his targets twice and finished that span with a 74.6% catch rate.
Doyle’s workload increased significantly last season jumping to 108 targets from 75 in 2016, and though one reason for that could be seen as Doyle becoming Jacoby Brissett’s safety blanket, another is the obvious lack of depth at the position.
Regardless of anyone’s thoughts on Dwayne Allen before he was traded to New England, that additional weapon on the field alleviated the hard target from opposing defenses on either Doyle or Allen. The pair combined for 11 touchdowns on the season, and the Colts’ 2017 tight end room showed no resemblance to that kind of production.
In 2016 Doyle was targeted 75 times as mentioned above, and Allen saw 52 within the offensive gameplan. Last season, Brandon Williams and Darrell Daniels — the two tight ends following Doyle in targets — combined for a total of 30 targets as Doyle’s ballooned without a capable running mate. Erik Swoope sitting out for the entire season certainly didn’t help either given that he was showing real signs of improvement up to that point.
Thus, the position produced only 4 touchdowns last season — all from Doyle.
Doyle was used nearly everywhere as a result of the Colts not having a capable No. 2 tight end, while having to maintain his role as an in-line blocker at the position. As you can see in the link below, Doyle’s prominence in the slot did not go unnoticed.
Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce both dominated from the slot. pic.twitter.com/UjZ5rK1fYQ— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 27, 2018
Now, with the addition of Eric Ebron to the offense, the workload may get back to being more evenly spread. Ebron has been targeted at least 70 times in the last three seasons in Detroit, and in 2017 Ebron’s supporting cast at the position resembled that of Doyle’s.
Darren Fells and Michael Roberts combined for 33 targets and 3 combined touchdowns in the Lions’ offense, whereas Daniels and Williams came up with goose eggs in the scoring department for the Colts. The Colts will be working hard to put up some points with the combination of Ebron and Doyle while hoping that Swoope’s progression can help the unit take an even larger step to becoming one of the league’s best.
In the upcoming season Doyle will likely be used in the backfield as an H-back, tight to the formation as a receiver and blocker and occasionally in the slot in specific packages as he has in the past. With Ebron now in the fold, his very defined skillset will be utilized outside of the formation more often in order to maximize the offense’s efficiency at each level of the field in the passing game.
While Doyle’s targets and receptions may drop as a result of having another viable pass catcher at the position, the Colts offense will likely be much more advanced because of it.