According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, the not yet seen Indianapolis Colts quarterback to wide receiver pairing of Philip Rivers to T.Y. Hilton is already among the league’s best—coming in at #10 overall:
10) Philip Rivers and T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts: Rivers and Hilton are both coming off a down 2019. Hampered by injury and inconsistent quarterback play, Hilton barely topped 500 receiving yards, while Rivers got as close as he ever has to a 1:1 TD-to-INT ratio (23:20). But from 2012 to ‘18, Hilton was the NFL’s most productive receiver on a per-catch basis (15.97 yards per reception). Rivers, meanwhile, ranked third in yards per attempt (8.5) just one season ago. With the Colts’ stout offensive line in front of Rivers, it’s not unrealistic for this pair to rediscover their mojo together in Indy.
The two former Pro Bowlers could have rebound seasons respectively in Indianapolis next year—as the new quarterback to wide receiver duo has 12 career Pro Bowl appearances between them and real reasons for optimism.
The 38 year old Rivers, who threw for 23 passing touchdowns to 20 interceptions, while amassing 4,615 passing yards in 2019, will be reunited with his former offensive coordinator (now Colts head coach) Frank Reich—who knows him very well and has a quarterback friendly offensive system to feature him.
He’ll also be protected by one of the best offensive lines in all of football and surrounded by formidable receiving options—not only Hilton, but also big bodied rookie wideout Michael Pittman Jr., Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle, blazing fast wideout Parris Campbell, the always underrated Zach Pascal, new receiving tight end Trey Burton, and scat back Nyheim Hines—while also being backed by a strong running game with rookie Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack to heavily lean upon as bonafide bellcows.
Meanwhile, Hilton is coming off a down 2019 season because of injuries (calf) and reluctant starting quarterback play—when it came to throwing downfield. He finished with just 45 receptions for 501 receiving yards (11.1 ypr. avg.) and 5 touchdown receptions in 10 starts.
Hilton should see improved performance in 2020 with a starting quarterback like Rivers who’s comfortable taking shots and pushing the ball downfield.
Together, both Rivers and Hilton should reclaim at least most of their former magic.
While Rivers historically loves throwing to big bodied wideouts, the wily veteran gunslinger will assuredly try to whip it to anyone who can get consistently open, especially downfield—which is Hilton’s calling card with dangerous deep speed.
Both should see a significant uptick in production come next season as one of the NFL’s best quarterback to wide receiver combinations—with a lot of experience between them.