If I would have told you before last season that former UDFA Zach Pascal would be the Colts’ leading wide receiver in terms of yardage in 2019, you would have called me crazy. With injuries to both T.Y Hilton and Devin Funchess, Pascal was able to have a career year as he caught 41 passes on 69 targets for 607 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season.
In a new film room series for the site, we will be looking back on the 2019 season to see which routes each of the top passing game targets had the most success on. I personally went back through all 69 of Pascal’s targets and charted each route. Here are the five routes he found the most success on, and the three routes that he was the least efficient on in 2019.
Most Efficient Routes
1.) Deep In Route (16+ air yards)
I broke down a few routes by depth of target and didn’t just classify them traditionally as “In” or “Out” routes. The most successful overall route for Pascal in 2019 was the deep In route where the ball traveled 16+ air yards on the play. He hauled in six of his seven targets when running this route for 155 yards. When targeted on this route, Colts quarterbacks had a passer rating of 118.8. Here is a great example of why he was so successful on these plays as he breaks down the Titans cornerback at the top of his route for an easy first down.
2.) “C” Route
Now, a “C” route isn’t a traditional route that you learn at ten years old likes ins and outs. This route essentially starts like a slant, straightens out like a vertical route, before breaking back outside to form a “C” figure on the field. Pascal was only targeted twice on this route last year but he caught both of those targets for 47 yards and a touchdown. Colts quarterbacks had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 when targeting him on this type of route. This play is a great example of the route, as Pascal is able to beat the Bucs’ defense to the corner for an easy touchdown.
3.) Drag Route
One of the easiest routes in the route tree to run, Pascal found a good amount of success on this play. He was targeted five times on the year and was able to haul in three of those passes for 20 yards and touchdown. Colts quarterbacks had a passer rating of 108.3 when targeting him on this route. Here is a good example of what a good drag route can do in an offense as Pascal loses his defender before catching the short pass and taking it in for the touchdown.
4.) Intermediate Curl Route (10-16 air yards)
The curl route was another one that I classified between short, intermediate, and deep air yards. Pascal was able to find a good amount of success working the middle of the field on this route. He was targeted five times on the year and was able to bring in four of those targets for 60 yards. Colts quarterbacks had a passer rating of 116.7 when targeting him on these routes. Here is a good example of how he was able to find a good spot in the zone to make the catch over the middle.
5.) Flat Route
The last route on the "most efficient" list is a simple flat route. Pascal was targeted three times last year on these routes and brought in all three of those targets for 43 yards. Colts quarterbacks had a passer rating of 118.8 when targeting him on these routes. Pascal did a great job of creating yards after the catch on these routes, as these short flat routes typically don’t net such a big gain. Here is a great example of Pascal catching the pass in the flat and getting up field for the big gain after the catch.
Least Efficient Routes
1.) Streak or Go Route
This was pretty ugly, here. Pascal was targeted five times on straight go routes in 2019. He brought in one of those five targets for 19 yards. Two of those targets ended up being intercepted. Colts quarterbacks had a passer rating of just 3.3 when targeting him on go routes. For comparison's sake, if all five of those passes were just thrown straight into the ground instead, the passer rating would have been 39.6. Here is Jacoby Brissett’s interception when throwing a go route to Pascal against Jacksonville:
2.) Short Curl Route (1-10 air yards)
This was another rough route for Pascal, as he struggled to get a good rhythm when targeted on this route all year. He was targeted six times on the year when running this route and only caught one pass for six yards. Another pass was intercepted on this route as well. Colts’ quarterbacks had a passer rating of 0.0 when targeting him on this route. That is obviously... not very good. Here is the costly pick-6 against Oakland on a short curl route by Pascal.
3.) Crossing Route
Luckily, those top two routes were the only atrocious ones for Pascal on the year. This last one was just the next-worst one by default. He was targeted on just three crossers last year and caught two passes for 54 yards. The other pass was intercepted which dropped his overall efficiency on this route. Colts’ quarterbacks had a passer rating of 70.1 when targeting him on this route. Here is Brian Hoyer throwing a poor pass behind Pascal for an interception against the Miami Dolphins.
Overall, Zach Pascal was a very good receiver for the Colts last season and stepped up big whenever the team needed him. He was very efficient and reliable too, as I only charted two drops from him last season and he was extremely efficient on almost every route on the year.
When looking at these numbers, Pascal appears to be at his best when working in-breaking routes, while his struggles came when he pushed vertical. The next element in his game that he needs to work on is separation on vertical routes and being better with his positioning and ball tracking on those routes. He had a great year, though, and should be a consistent number three or four receiver for this team for a long time.