The Colts are heading into their fourth season under the “New Era Colts” moniker, but some question wether they are closer to the Lombardi Trophy than the Peyton Manning era team. Peyton and the crew were able to hoist the shining silver trophy from Tiffany’s, but many felt they should have won more than one. So, that leads to question, what is the state of the Colts? Part one of the series looks at the wide receiver position.
Lets look at the offense first since, well, it’s a major emphasis that the team has really tried to improve since year one. Obviously this team will go as far as Andrew Luck can carry them, but there is more to the offense than just Luck.
T.Y. Hilton 82/1345/7
Reggie Wayne 64/779/2
Donte Moncrief 32/444/3
Hakeem Nicks 38/405/4
Duron Carter CFL 2014
Griff Whalen 2/23/0
That’s a stacked group even with Reggie Wayne potentially ending his career and Hakeem Nicks who may or may not return. T.Y. Hilton is without a doubt the team’s number one receiver. He has improved every season and has now become one of the league’s deadliest deep threats. Besides being a deep threat, Hilton has learned from Reggie how to improve through film study, while also improving his drop rate from the first season. He has become a more complete player, and a good option for Luck when the team needs that first down badly. Coming off a Pro Bowl season, expect him to continue his impressive play.
Donte Moncrief has proved to be potentially another great pick and a steal in the draft. Sure O’Dell Beckham JR. or Carolina’s spectacular rookie Kelvin Benjamin may have grabbed all the headlines but Moncrief quietly produced a strong campaign even though the team didn’t require him to be a big part of the offense. The Colts were able to slowly integrate Moncrief into their system and it paid dividends by the end of the season. He should improve in season two as he becomes more confident in his role with the team. His size and speed should continue to give the other team’s defense nightmares.
Factor in the addition of Duron Carter, son of Hall of Famer, Cris Carter and the team is slowly developing a young but gifted group. Carter last year in the CFL managed to bring in 7 TD’s, 75 receptions and 1045 yards playing for the Montreal Alouettes. If Duron can use his athleticism he should be able to make a role similar to that of Moncrief’s role last season. The CFL is a wide open passing league, which should help Carter get up to speed, his biggest challenge will be adjust to NFL defenses.
I also added Griff Whalen because he finds his way on and off the roster. He didn’t put up big numbers but works hard and understands his role on the team. If the team needs him, he is ready to give his all. He doesn’t have great size or speed or even athleticism, but he has a high football IQ and dependable hands when targeted. I love his heart and effort, but I don’t expect him to have a bigger role in 2015, especially since Josh Cribbs took over his special teams duties, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him making spots starts as needed. The management and coaching staff like what he brings to the team, it just has to be the right fit for the team.
Reggie Wayne returning to the team after what seemed to be a sub-par season by his standards. We know he was playing injured and coming off an injury, but he seemed to clearly be a shell of his former self. Look, there’s no shame in that, Reggie has given so much for the team, but it seems he’s thinking about life after football for the first time. If he comes back he’s probably third or fourth best at the position, again not a knock against him, just the reality of time catching up and talented young group of receivers. He has always taken care of his body and has been the leader when the team needed it. He helped a young Andrew Luck acclimate to pro game, and also found a way to prolong his career. If Reggie decides to move on, I would not be surprised to see him land on the coaching staff in some capacity, he’s practically a coach on the team now.
Hakeem Nicks came into the 2014 season with high expectations and a “Prove It” contract, but the season didn’t play out as many expected including myself. The preseason brought about rumblings of dissatisfaction from the coaching staff and most of the season seemed to suggest that maybe there was some truth in those sentiments. From time-to-time he would make one of those ridiculous grabs, but it seemed he had a hard time finding playing time, even behind rookie Donte Moncrief. I don’t know if he’ll be back, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he was. He came on at the end of the season and managed 4 TD’s and over 400 yards in his limited play time. He needs to improve to justify his spot on the team.
All in all this group will be very talented no matter if Reggie and Nicks move on. Luck was able to play to their strength last season by racking up yards like a cheat code on Madden. Clearly health always factors in, but if Hilton continues his game-breaking play, Donte Moncrief continues to improve in season two, and Duron Carter pans out to be the player that looked phenomenal in the CFL, this group should continue to be one of the best and also the youngest groups out there!