Let me start off by saying that Reggie going down this season was the worst case scenario for the Colts. However, in the long term it may be the best thing for the team. It is forcing the team to look for other options besides #87. Options that may not have had the chance to develop. Reggie was so intertwined in the offense, he along with Luck were able mask many of the deficiencies the team was encountering. Every time Luck needed someone to bail him out of trouble, he would look no further than Wayne. Wayne was so good with his routes and hands, he would almost never drop anything, thereby extending many drives.
With his exit, the team indicated that someone would rise to the occasion and the missing spot would come from within the team. Early on, Darrius Heyward-Bey seemed to be the logical choice because of his experience and the time he put in with Luck during the off-season. As we all know, things didn’t work out that way. In fact, the signing looks to be a complete bust. The knock on him seems to have followed him from his days in Oakland, and his collegiate career in Maryland. He has speed, but has trouble catching the ball.
So the team had to look for other options, and their second year wide receiver showed promise early on. T.Y. Hilton has shown a jump this year from his sensational rookie season. Last year, he showed flashes of his playmaking abilities, but also had a high drop rate. This season, he improved his problems and started to regularly make great plays, showing off his playmaking abilities. This was not to last long- defenses began to key in on him, thereby taking him out of the game and forcing the Colts to beat them with someone else.
Out of necessity, second-year Tight End Coby Fleener become more prominent in the offense, providing Luck a reliable option. He has really made up this season for what many considered a sub-par rookie season; partially due to injuries and inconsistent play. For Luck, he has become dependable and tough. Also he really improved on his catch rate, making him a favorite to get the tough yards. Once Dwayne Allen heals up from his injury, the Colts will have two very dependable Tight Ends at their disposal going into next season.
So with DHB struggling, T.Y. and Fleener now receiving more attention from defenses, a big opportunity presented itself for the raw and untested wideouts. Since being given a chance, these young receivers have been making plays and earning the confidence of Luck. In the last two games Da’Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill, and Griff Whalen have lifted the run centered offense that was stagnating in the dust into a pass centered, playmaking offense. With this shift to implement them more in the offense, the team has seen a dramatic change in their offensive output. Prior to the change, the Colts were getting themselves behind in the score and not moving the ball. Now they are making plays and showing their skills by making impressive plays and showing a toughness that was missing after Reggie went down.
What once looked to be a weakness is now proving to be a potential strength. Yes, it’s early, and we need to see a larger sample size from these young receivers before we crown them as an heir apparent to Reggie. However, each has shown something in their limited play time and will only improve as they get more experience. Hopefully we see them line up with Reggie on the playing field next season, showing him that the team he has played his entire career for is in good hands now, and in the future.