The Indianapolis Colts are off to a predictably slow start to free agency. It has never been Chris Ballard’s style to spend big in free agency and he seems to be continuing that in 2021. The Colts have made a move though prior to the official start of free agency, as they placed a second round tender on wide receiver Zach Pascal on Tuesday. This essentially means that Pascal will be back with the Colts unless another team is willing to part with a second round pick for him (which won’t happen).
In honor of the ever reliable receiver returning to the Colts, I am going to go through some of my favorite clips and posts I’ve made of his over the past few years.
Back to the Beginning
I have been a big fan of Zach Pascal for a long time. Before covering the Colts, I actually was a podcaster and journalist covering the Washington Football Team. Pascal was in camp as an undrafted rookie back in 2017 and I ultimately ended up following him to Indy in 2018 (by pure coincidence, I swear). It was easy to see in the preseason before the 2018 season that he belonged with the team as he made countless plays on special teams and on offense.
Catch of the game here by Zach Pascal. I’m actually a big fan of Pascal and think he’s the ideal 6th receiver to make the roster. ST guy who continually improves his receiver play. Big fan pic.twitter.com/I7qwLDi7nG— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) August 10, 2018
Ability as a Blocker
When Zach Pascal first made the Colts’ roster in 2018, it was mainly due to his special teams prowess and ability to do the little things for an offense. While his role has certainly increased over the years, his ability and willingness to do the dirty work has remained. He is an outstanding run blocker who plays a huge factor in the Colts having success in the ground game.
Whether it is out in space on a run play or stalk blocking a corner, Pascal gives 100% as a blocker and is a valuable asset. While I wholeheartedly believe that Michael Pittman Jr will become great at this one day, this is the area where Pascal is by far and away the best receiver on the team at. It may not show up in the box score but it has a huge impact on the game.
Who doesn't love some receiver blocking? Ashton Dulin (#16) seals the outside lane and Zach Pascal (#14) leads the way on the outside for the walk in touchdown. pic.twitter.com/cZe9LiEx74— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) August 12, 2020
The best running backs in the league understand how to block the unblocked defender. Here Marlon Mack forces the outside defender to commit outside before stepping around the block of Zach Pascal back inside for the touchdown: pic.twitter.com/4PMZCtN6Ct— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) May 22, 2020
Zach Pascal run block pancake. I love watching this guy play football. Just does every little thing right. Every NFL team needs a Zach Pascal pic.twitter.com/5hM4sXcwvR— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) June 17, 2020
Breakout in 2019
After a modest 2018 season with the Colts, Pascal seemed destined to stay in his bottom of the roster receiver role with the team. In 2019 however, that changed as injuries and inconsistencies to players above him on the depth chart led to more playing time. While the offense wasn’t successful as a whole, Pascal was able to put up career numbers. He led the team in receiving yards (641 yards) and receiving touchdowns (5).
His success came due to continued development in his game along with more opportunities. He was excellent on deep in routes and plays that took him over the middle of the field, where his toughness and reliable hands paved the way to success. He also flashed excellence in some games, notably against the Steelers, where he showed the potential to be even more in the future.
Audio Breakdown ️:— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) July 13, 2020
Zach Pascal was the Colts' most consistent and reliable receiver in 2019. Today I look at one of his best clips as he runs a near perfect deep out against Joe Haden for a big gain. pic.twitter.com/j2vWThDhda
Zach Pascal vs Pitt last year was outstanding (5 rec for 76 yds and TD)— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) June 12, 2020
~Clip 1: Attacks the blindspot on the out for a huge gain
~Clip 2: Excellent extension on the post for the touchdown
~Clip 3: Beautiful toe tap on the deep C route
~Clip 4: Acrobatic backshoulder catch pic.twitter.com/fxx6U2filc
Decided to chart all 69 of Colts WR Zach Pascal's targets in 2019 by route run. His most successful route on the year was a deep In route (15+ yards depth of target).— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) May 26, 2020
On these plays, he logged 6 catches on 7 targets for 155 yards. That is a passer rating of 118.8. pic.twitter.com/7KzAe3x20Y
My Interview with Pascal
After the 2019 season, I had the pleasure of sitting down for a film session interview with the reliable receiver. While he was a soft spoken and humble interview, you could tell just from listening to him why the Colts love him. He’s just a selfless player who puts the team first and will do anything necessary to win. I highly recommend watching the film interview with him to get a feel for who Pascal really is as a player and person.
The similarities between Zach Pascal and Ashton Dulin are uncanny. Pascal has taken Dulin under his wing and is really excited about the young WR:— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) June 16, 2020
“His growth from day one to now I’ve seen the growth. I can’t wait to see what he does going forward.” pic.twitter.com/gGqpGy3MGr
Who is the biggest trash talker in the Colts WR room?— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) June 15, 2020
“I would say me”
~ Zach Pascal (@ZachPascal6)
One of my favorite moments from interviews this offseason lol pic.twitter.com/cIs8lVQs2L
Continued steadiness in 2020
While he didn’t take a huge leap forward in 2020 with Philip Rivers at quarterback, Pascal maintained his steady play throughout the season. While he wasn’t as much of a focus in the offense this time around, he still finished second out of receivers on the team in catches (44), receiving yards (629), and first in receiving touchdowns (5).
In honor of his season, I put together this highlight reel of his top five plays of the season. He made some key plays that helped the Colts on their run to the playoffs in 2020.
In honor of Zach Pascal returning to the Colts with a second round tender, here is a video with 5 of his best plays for the Colts in 2020. Tough player who improves every year and does it all for the Colts. Glad he will be back: pic.twitter.com/lLEWmf3Xaa— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) March 16, 2021
Future Outlook and Final Thoughts
While Pascal may never be a star receiver in this league, he is an extremely reliable player to have on your team. He does all the little things— from blocking to special teams— and is a player that quarterbacks can rely on. That reliability has value to an offense and to a coaching staff.
I don’t see Pascal leaving anytime soon and I’d bet that there is a better chance of him getting an extension this offseason than not. Even if he doesn’t though, the Colts will at least have him for another year in 2021.
I am a big fan of everything Pascal brings to the team and am happy he is coming back. Hopefully the Colts can continue to add to their offensive weapons but even if they don’t, we know that Pascal will be ready to once again step up and produce.