Receiving Corps Setting Indianapolis Colts Up for Deep Playoff Run
Entering last week’s game in Paul Brown Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals, no one was expecting much out of this Indianapolis Colts offense. Most thought if they were going to win games, it was going to be ugly and on the efforts of Andrew Luck and the defense.
Since Reggie Wayne was injured late in the October 20 game with the Denver Broncos, no one outside of T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener has stepped up to fill his void. Defenses were smart and doubled Hilton on the line of scrimmage, not allowing him to get open. From there, the rest of the defenders were going in an all-out blitz, forcing Indianapolis to use Fleener as a protector instead of running routes.
That’s why the offense couldn’t click. Darrius Heyward-Bey was dismal at getting open, and he couldn’t catch when he did.
But that all changed last week. Indianapolis got a great effort out of receivers Da’Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill. The duo combined to score four touchdowns (two each) and gave this offense a breath of life. Unfortunately, Brazill was injured late in the game and missed today’s game with the Houston Texans as Indianapolis had to move Griff Whalen up from the practice squad to fill his place.
Still, with Rogers’ efforts last week, it forced Houston to have to play back. They couldn’t double Hilton at the line and couldn’t blitz so much because of their fear of Rogers going off.
That led to a big game for the offense as they scored 23 points today on that side of the ball after getting 28 last week. Whalen scored his first NFL touchdown on the first possession as he finished the day with 45 yards on four receptions. Rogers had 23 yards today on two catches as he was blanketed all day.
That led to Hilton being T.Y. again. He led Indianapolis on the day with 78 yards on eight catches. That gave Indianapolis a passing game again as Luck could spread the ball around and trusted his guys to catch the ball. That in turn set up the run as Indianapolis rushed for 152 yards on 36 carries this afternoon. Trent Richardson struggled until his 22-yard break away run in the fourth, but Donald Brown really thrived early, which set the tone for the day.
Brown had 38 yards on only five carries early on before leaving the game with a stinger.
Credit this offensive explosion the last two weeks on the young receivers finally stepping up. If they can continue to do that, then Indianapolis is back to normal again. When Brazill comes back, they now have four valuable receivers with a fifth in tight end Fleener.
Eric Smith is the Colts Beat Writer for Rant Sports. He’s covered the team the past four seasons and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Colts. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru