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Film Room: Can Mo Alie-Cox become a legitimate receiving threat?

Mo Alie-Cox has all the potential to become a legit two way tight end

Oakland Raiders versus Indianapolis Colts Nhat V. Meyer/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts made a ton of meaningful additions to their offense this offseason to improve one of the worst 2019 passing offenses in the NFL. They added a potential Hall of Fame quarterback in Philip Rivers along with a promising rookie in Michael Pittman Jr at receiver and a veteran tight end in Trey Burton to name a few. One player who is flying under the radar is third year tight end Mo Alie-Cox.

Alie-Cox may not be a household name but he has been a steady contributor the past two seasons. He has logged over 600 offensive snaps, most have featured him as a run blocker, as he is one of the top tight ends in the league in that department. Head Coach Frank Reich raved about Alie-Cox to Indy media saying he likes what he brings as a blocker and pass catcher and he envisions Alie-Cox “getting more playing time than he did last year” per Kevin Bowen of 1075 the Fan.

In today’s film room, we will look at Alie-Cox as a pass catcher and see what he needs to do to become a more well rounded tight end.

Film Room

The biggest concern for Alie-Cox in his transition from college basketball was how quickly he could develop as a route runner/technician. You can see on this route from his rookie season that he he rounds off his corner route and isn’t very subtle or sudden with his motion. The positive is how he utilizes his frame and controls his body to make a contested catch. He locates the ball on the run and out muscles one of the league’s best safeties in Jamal Adams for the catch. This play shows his potential with a QB who trusts to throw the ball his way down the field.

As his rookie season progressed, Alie-Cox improved as a route runner. This play features a miscommunication by the Jaguars defense but look at his quick jab on this route. He is also able to redirect his body in the air to avoid a big hit on the way down. The downfield element was missing a year ago and the Colts have to find ways get their big pass catchers involved. Alie-Cox has the ability to extend and hang on through contact.

Alie-Cox is reliable. In two seasons, he has been targeted with 22 catchable passes and has come down with 16 (73% catch rate). Here he shows reliability in the red zone as Andrew Luck tosses a high pass in tight space for the easy score. A player with his athleticism and size (6’5” 267 pounds) should be trusted to make a play in contested situations.

While not the most nimble or elusive, Alie-Cox creates a lot of yards after the catch. Of his 226 career receiving yards, 108 came after the catch — good for 48%. That is good for any tight end and especially one of his size. His after catch abilities are primarily the result of his power and size. Nobody wants to get in front of this freight train when he has the ball. It leads to plays like this where he drags multiple defenders down the field for a big gain.

A fun concept for the Colts to work into the playbook in 2020 may be a tight end screen to let Alie-Cox rumble through defenders with blockers out in front. It doesn’t have to be vertical shots or 50/50 jump balls. Just get the ball in his hands when you need some yards and let him carry defenders for solid gains. Here he rolls through three defenders for a first down on a short dump off pass.

In 2019 Alie-Cox as he nearly doubled his snaps from 2018 but saw nearly half the targets. With new addition Philip Rivers under center, he should see an uptick in snaps and targets. If everything that Frank Reich said to the media is true, we should see him featured in more schemed plays like this one against the Panthers late last season.

It all comes down to potential and growth. Alie-Cox has shown the ability to be a good two way tight end in this league. He needs to get more opportunities to showcase his receiving ability. We know he can make plays like this on Sundays, why not give him a chance to showcase this ability?

Final Thoughts

I don’t think Mo Alie-Cox is the best tight end on the team. I also think he has room to grow. I think he is a talented young player who deserves more opportunities in the passing game.

He was developing good chemistry with Andrew Luck before his untimely retirement. With Jacoby Brissett as the starter in 2019, Alie-Cox and the entire passing offense didn’t perform anywhere near expectations. I expect that to turn around with Philip Rivers under center as he is more aggressive and should give players like Alie-Cox a shot to prove their worth in the passing game.

Alie-Cox is a solid young player who has grown a lot. He is one of the best blocking tight ends in the game and has a ton of potential in the passing game. If the Colts commit to playing him more and involving him in the offense, 2020 could be a strong year for the young tight end.