Reggie Wayne was informed by the team before the start of the season that his services were no longer needed in Indianapolis, after playing out the remainder of his 3 year contract. The team was left with a huge void in production but more importantly veteran leadership. T.Y. Hilton is clearly the number one receiver, but with that being said the team needed someone who opposing teams would have to cover. Enter in free agent, Andre Johnson, whose size and jump ball abilities drew attention early in his career as a Texan, but over the last few seasons slowed down due to injuries and just as importantly quarterback issues. Johnson soon found himself available and a confluence of events landed him in Indianapolis reuniting with familiar people from the U: Frank Gore and Head Coach, Chuck Pagano.
Johnson said the move had nothing to do with the fact that the Colts played the Texans twice a year, but rather the circumstances of where the Colts were (Potential Super Bowl team with arguably the best young quarterback in the game) along with the familiarity described above. Also, Andre has realized that he no longer can carry a team, but as Reggie did the last few years found that with hard work and a veteran’s skillset can still have a highly productive career.
Year/ G/Rec/Y-T/AVG/Y-G/100yd G/TD
**Stats from NFL.com
The numbers above indicate that Johnson has been very productive year-in-year-out, but also keep in mind the disadvantages he played with while in Houston: bad teams, bad quarterbacks, and often was the sole offensive weapon. Now as a member of the Colts, he should have all those problems eliminated from the equation leaving only his play on the field the determining factor. So what are realistic expectations for him this season?
I decided that maybe a good benchmark for Johnson would be to take his numbers for the last 3 seasons and use the averages as a baseline since those are seen as “declining years” and are probably closer to who Johnson is now compared to the younger version.
By these numbers we can see that he should be able to play all the games (16) and should also be able to pull in a (100) receptions while also easily go over (1,000) yards. (80) yards a game with (13) yards per catch, (2) 100 yard games, with 4 TD’s for the season. Those numbers should match up well against Wayne’s numbers for the last 3 seasons. Johnson should be very similar to Reggie when he is on the field for the Colts, teams will have to account for him, otherwise he can still torch some defenses as Reggie was able to do. I wouldn’t expect him to be the deep ball guy, but if he was left open or able to get away from a defender Johnson still has the ability to make the defense pay.
What it all boils down to is Johnson isn’t the go to guy on the team, that role belongs to T.Y. Hilton as he’s been the guy for two years now. That doesn’t mean Johnson role isn’t vital however. When Reggie got injured the previous season, teams were able to key in on Hilton because the Colts didn’t have another option teams feared. Andre can still cause havoc and provide Luck a solid, sure-handed receiver just as Reggie provided. As a fan of the team I think it’s fair to expect a lot from him, just not everything as he had to do in Houston. The Colts have enough depth at wide receiver, maybe more than any other team in the league, plus other weapons on offense that should allow Johnson to prosper in Indianapolis.