The Indianapolis Colts have made their most important signing of the offseason, bringing back fan favorite and future Ring of Honor wide receiver TY Hilton. Hilton has had a remarkable career in Indy, as he has totaled 608 catches for 9,360 yards and 50 touchdowns with the Colts. He could join Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison this season as the only receivers to have over 10,000 yards receiving with the Colts.
While this signing may seem like it is just a move to bring back a team legend, it is even more than that. TY Hilton is a different receiver than what he was a few years ago, as injuries have taken a toll on his body. However, he is still a really good wide receiver who helps this team win now.
Success on Out Routes
Hilton was simply outstanding on out routes this past season. I planned on only putting maybe two or three clips into this video but there were so many good ones that I didn’t want to leave any out. Even with a quarterback who didn’t have the strongest arm, Hilton was able to consistently win on out routes anywhere from five to 20 yards down the field. He stacked defenders at an elite level and his ability to step on the toes of the defensive back before quickly shifting back outside was incredible. With a quarterback who has a stronger arm in Carson Wentz, I could see this being an easy bread and butter play for the Colts in 2021.
In honor of #BringTYhome, here is one of the videos I have prepped for when he (hopefully) re-signs. Hilton was killer on out routes last year and it was easily his most prolific route. Even when defenders knew it was coming, they couldn't stop it. Still a stud @TYHilton13 pic.twitter.com/ikdokrEy78— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) March 21, 2021
The Deep Ball was still there
While Hilton has lost a step since his earlier playing days, he still has the ability to be a top deep threat in the league. He rarely had the chance to showcase this ability with Jacoby Brissett (lack of willingness to throw downfield) and Philip Rivers (weaker arm), but with Carson Wentz he may just be able to be a force vertically again. He may not be able to run past every corner in the league like he used to, but if he has a good match-up with no safety over top, watch out.
Even though he has lost a step over the years, Hilton can still when vertically given the chance pic.twitter.com/HfNTwa241O— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) March 25, 2021
Success from the Slot
He may not have led the team in snaps from the slot this past season, but Hilton’s ability to shift inside on certain formations is a huge mismatch opportunity. Pro Football Focus charted him as lining up in the slot on 77 snaps this past year. He ended up with 20 targets and caught 11 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. He is more of your classic Z receiver but with how the Colts deploy stacked looks and switch releases, this is another area where Hilton can feast.
Hilton's ability to play in the slot and on the outside made him a valuable weapon for the Colts pic.twitter.com/c8rUAmSGeg— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) March 25, 2021
A Redzone Threat??
When you think of the typical redzone receiver, it is hard to imagine a 5’10” 180 pound receiver filling that role. However, Hilton has done a remarkable job of developing this area of his game and as a result, he has been able to score more frequently in the Frank Reich era than before it. In the last two years, without Andrew Luck at quarterback, Hilton has been able to score 10 times through the air. Nine of those touchdowns have come in the redzone (well technically eight but one of them was a 21 yard catch). His ability to find the soft spot in zones and even win on fade routes has been fascinating to watch.
Hilton's growth as a redzone WR the last two years has been fun to watch. Really turned into a real threat down there pic.twitter.com/g7EzwRd7PI— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) March 25, 2021
Run After Catch Ability
While it has never been the strongest attribute in his game, Hilton has always been great at creating the hidden yardage in a game. He may not be like Michael Pittman Jr and run over players after the catch, but he does a great job of subtly taking advantage of defenders when they don’t have leverage and tip toeing the sideline to create more yards. 208 of 794 yards this past season came after the catch. While that isn’t a ton of created yardage, that is enough to make defenders scared of him when he catches the ball in space.
While it isn't the biggest strength in his game, Hilton's ability to create hidden yardage after the catch has always been fun to watch. Also knows how to protect himself from big hits pic.twitter.com/3TK75lbLE5— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) March 25, 2021
I think I speak for all of Colts Nation when I say that I am so happy that TY Hilton is back for another year with the Colts. The way that he has been able to change his game and take more of a step back in the offense with no complaints has been incredible. He is the epitome of an Indianapolis Colt and he more than deserved this contract.
I have seen a few people say that he is “washed” on some platforms. As someone who has watched every single snap of his from this past season, that can’t be further from the truth. He may not be the elite vertical threat that he once was, but he is an outstanding route runner who wins in the short-intermediate game and can be a huge asset in this offense.
Hilton should be given the chance to thrive with Carson Wentz in this offense. If everything goes right and he is able to stay healthy, he has a legit chance to go over 1,000 yards for the first time since 2018. At the very least, get him over that 10,000 career benchmark. I am excited to see Hilton back in a Colts’ uniform and hopefully we see his return to dominance in 2021.