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Jack Doyle: The Colts’ quiet MVP of Week 1

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September 8th, Dignity Health Sports Park - 90 seconds remain in the 1st Quarter; a crucial 3rd down conversion awaits. Jacoby Brissett takes the snap, ushering the ball to Marlon Mack on a strong side run - or so the defence thinks. The hand-off is faked, providing Brissett with just enough time to deliver a pass to Jack Doyle on a left side crosser.

Doyle uses the misdirection at the line to sneak past a confused linebacker and romp for a 20 yard gain. In the mayhem and chaos schemed around him, Doyle thrives - this just being the start of his magnificent Week 1 performance.


Introduction

Sunday’s loss in Los Angeles was a very interesting affair (to say the least). From missed kicks to blown calls to a painful overtime loss, it truly had it all. And it’s those surrounding factors that made a valiant but underrated game by Jack Doyle all the more impressive. Yes, he dropped a pass, but coming back from a devastating kidney injury last year in Week 12, Doyle looked healthy as could be.

Whether it was punishing blockers, opening up space, or even catching the ball himself, the Western Kentucky product truly did it all, logging 43 total snaps (out of a possible 63), and run blocking on a staggering 85% of Indy’s running attempts. Now was he the best player on the field? Of course not. But the Indy TE did a lot more than his single 20-yard catch indicates on the stat sheet.

Let’s take a quick look through 3 plays that highlight his impact.


Clear Out

We’ll start with the most modest part of Doyle’s game - creating space for other players. No rep shows this underrated skill as well as a key 3rd and goal early on in the game.

Now, most of the credit goes to coach Frank Reich here for drawing up a clever rub route. All Doyle really had to do was run in a straight line, but intricacies were still involved. After all, Doyle has to use his body to shield the outside corner from reaching Hilton, timing his route perfectly with Hilton’s in the process.

He ended up doing just that, and the result was a touchdown.


“Wham” Block

As stated above, Doyle was used on 85% of Indy’s running plays on Sunday. The Colts also rushed for a staggering 203 rushing yards. Coincidence? I think not.

As seen during spurts last year, Reich loved using Doyle in “h-back” type roles, and that continued Sunday. Asked to pull and execute “wham” blocks (essentially running behind the OL and taking the free defender on the opposite side) all game long, Doyle did so with extreme effectiveness, and this play is just one quick example of that.

No, Doyle doesn’t maul anyone here. He doesn’t go all “Quenton Nelson” and pancake opposing linemen, but that’s okay. Doyle’s job as a tight end is to be an annoyance for defensive ends, simply stopping them from reaching the ball-carrier by whatever means necessary.

By sealing the left side for a split second, Doyle allows Mack to weave through the line and convert a key third-down conversion. That’s all he needs to do - and it’s a microcosm of his entire game. He’s not flashy, but Doyle simply gets the job done.


Long Gain

Does this play look familiar? It’s because it was described in the opening header. And yes, it may seem excessive to feature it twice, but so be it.

Only used as a route-runner on 13 reps Sunday, Doyle wasn’t prioritized in the passing game, but it didn’t stop him from scampering for a nice 20 yard gain on this perfectly executed drag route.

Making up for an errant drop on his only other target of the day, Doyle redeemed himself by taking advantage of a confused defence at the perfect time. Delaying his release until the opportune moment, Doyle squeezed through the coverage and was able to turn a nice 10-yard catch into twice that with some great run-after-catch ability. Displaying some sneaky speed (yes, I’m going there) Doyle turned up field right away and even threw a violent stiff arm on top of that.

Great play design with even better execution.


Conclusion

Did Jack Doyle shatter records on Sunday? No. But much like the team itself, he showed versatility, grit, and a quality overall performance.

Ultimately, Doyle may continue to fly under the radar, but that’s just the nature of his game. He’s nothing flashy, but that’s exactly what this Colts team needs.