When asked why he stood pat regarding his largely returning same wide receiving corps, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard told The Athletic’s Robert Mays that he remains bullish on his talented group, and that they’re better than often given credit for:
“Yeah, well, I’m betting on Michael Pittman, who I think has got a chance to be really good,” Ballard told Mays on ‘The Athletic Football Show’. “I thought he ended the year strong. He had a big playoff game with over a hundred yards.”
“Everyone just ignores Zach Pascal, but all he’s done is catch ten touchdowns over the last two years, and then getting Parris Campbell back is a big bonus, and he’s looked great during the offseason.”
“So we think we’re a little better than other people do. I mean even last year, I want to say we finished in the top ten for YAC [yards after catch]. I think even higher. I don’t want to give (a wrong number), but even with the group, that everyone doubted, (it’s a) talented group.”
“Is there a guy that you just line up and go, ‘Holy crap, man. How are we going to stop this guy?’ Maybe not. But they are really damn good players, and T.Y. Hilton can still play. He can still play. . . . He’s as good and competitive of a teammate I’ve ever been around.”
“ . . . So we like our wideout group.”
Of course, the Colts will be relying on a number of factors.
2nd-year wideout Michael Pittman Jr. having a sophomore breakout after he showed flashes of greatness during his rookie campaign down the stretch—especially following an unusual (and scary) injury that hindered his development and production initially.
3rd-year wideout Parris Campbell, who possesses game-changing speed and is a dynamic playmaker with the football in his hands, to finally stay healthy after two severely injury riddled seasons to begin his early pro career.
Zach Pascal to remain rock solid when catching, blocking, and making critical catches.
Franchise great T.Y. Hilton to ‘fight off father time’ for at least another season and perhaps undergo a career renaissance with Carson Wentz’s upgraded arm strength behind center—regaining his form as one of the league’s top proven deep threats again.
For what it’s worth, PFF ranked the Colts as having the NFL’s 24th best wide receiver corps a few weeks ago, so it shows what national analysts think of Indy’s unheralded and unsexy wide receiver room right now.
Yes, the team lacks an alpha dog, elite wideout such as a Tyreek Hill, DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, or D.K. Metcalf, but at the same time, it’s a unit that’s deep and talented—with more of a ‘pick your poison’ type approach against opposing secondaries and with wideouts featuring differing skill-sets that gives the unit added versatility.
The Colts will need a few breaks such as Pittman Jr. taking another significant step forward, Campbell finally staying healthy, and Hilton re-finding the fountain of youth, but this is a wide receiver corps that definitely has a chance to prove its pundits wrong in 2021.