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Life Without Luck: Indianapolis Colts Skill Position Season Review

Colts 2017 Season Review

It was a rough ride for Colt’s fans throughout the 2017 season. The main protagonist was the unpredictability of the injury status of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. A pre-season trade with New England saw Indianapolis acquire Tom Brady’s understudy Jacoby Brissett who briefly appeared and impressed when filling in for Brady during his suspension in the 2016 campaign.

Week 1 saw a dismal opening performance by original starter Scott Tolzien where he only managed 128 yards from 18 attempts, throwing two INT’s in the process. Needless to say, Brissett only had to wait three quarters before being gifted his chance to make the position his own – something he managed to do and somewhere he remained for the rest of the regular season. But despite his young flair, confidence and unquestioned ability, Luck’s presence under center was still an obvious miss. It was always going to be a tough gig for the former NC State signal caller having to lead an offense which is depleted along the offensive line and susceptible to allowing defenses to rush the passer. This was proven throughout the season as we saw the Colts give up the most sacks in the league with 56. Despite this, I wouldn’t say Brissett was bad, not by a long way. He passed the eyeball test once he was able to get going as the season progressed and at times he did flash some excellence.

It was the consistency that lacked which is what defined the difference between his inexperience and what the Colts have been used to in the recent past with Luck. Brissett managed to finish 22nd overall in terms of passing yards with 3,098 but found himself in the bottom 30% of quarterbacks who played in 5 or more games when it came to touchdowns, throwing just 13 over the course of the season.  These statistical troubles translated into the team having the worst offensive season in their history in terms of total points accumulated and total yards gained but more significantly since Luck was drafted in 2012.

Passer W L PF Pts Rank Yds Rank Div. Finish
2017 Brissett 4 12 263 30 31 3rd of 4
2016 Luck 8 8 411 8 10 3rd of 4
2015 Luck 8 8 333 24 28 2nd of 4
2014 Luck 11 5 458 6 3 1st of 4
2013 Luck 11 5 391 14 15 1st of 4
2012 Luck 11 5 357 18 10 2nd of 4

The running game also failed to pack any real killer punch this season. Father time has refused to catch up with legendary running back Frank Gore, but this past season saw the future Hall-of-Famer hit some below par stats. He finished the year with 961 yards which quite remarkably is only the third time in his career of being under 1,000 yards as a starting running back. Although that particular statistic is far from terrible, it was in the touchdown column where Gore and the rest of the Indianapolis running corps really struggled in 2017. Gore managed to notch just 3 rushing touchdowns – equaling only his rookie season in San Francisco where he wasn’t considered the starter. Despite rookie running back Marlon Mack (358 yards) flashing brilliance from time to time, he also only managed to score 3 touchdowns with the only other running back touchdown came through backup Robert Turbin (53 yards). This brought Indianapolis’ total team running back rushing touchdowns to 7 and ranking them 25th in the NFL. Fingers are once again were left pointing at the inability of the offensive line who were seemingly inept at creating holes for the backs as they only managed to gain 3.7 yards per attempt which ranked 5th worst in the league.

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Unfortunately, the Colts receivers didn’t have much joy in 2017 either. It was always going to be a struggle trying to strike up a rapport comparable with what they’ve had in previous years with Luck. Even so, pre-season you would have expected Indy’s receivers to find the endzone more than just 13 times and finding themselves rock bottom of the receiving touchdown totals which ended up being the reality.

Att Comp Yds Y/A TD
2014 w/Luck 647 410 5062 12.3 42
2015 w/Luck 604 355 3928 11.1 26
2016 w/Luck 573 370 4491 12.1 32
2017 w/Brissett 472 285 3226 11.3 13

Main wide receiver threat T.Y Hilton transformed from being a reliable weapon week to week in fantasy leagues with a high floor and ceiling in 2016 to being an unpredictable boom or bust guy with a very low floor with an uncertain ceiling. Despite his yards per reception still remaining high at 16.9, Hilton took a big hit in the overall reception department. Before this season, he found himself with an impressive 81 reception average over the last 4 seasons with Luck under center. This season that dipped to just 57, the lowest since his rookie year. Add this to his worst touchdown total of his career (4) and you can understand why fantasy fanatics, in particular, were left disappointed with the star receiver in 2017. Donte Moncrief’s impressive progression during his rookie contract also came to an abrupt halt as he only managed 2 scores on the season and contributed just 391 yards.

Donte MoncriefIt remains to be seen if Moncrief will be apart of the new Indianapolis regime under new head coach Frank Reich as his contract is due to expire when March rolls around. To top off a fairly quiet and disappointing season for the receivers, newly acquired Kamar Aiken who joined the Colts in the last offseason garnered just 133 yards off 15 receptions and failed to record a touchdown and was overtaken on the depth chart by second-year receiver Chester Rogers who clocked up 284 yards and 1 TD.

Despite all of the woes in the wide receiver position, there was one feel good factor for the Indianapolis offense. That came in the shape of tight end Jack Doyle. It’s hard to believe the Western Kentucky product has been with the Colts for 5 seasons, but he has now well and truly cemented his position as one of their main weapons since the departure of Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. The Indianapolis native was the league’s second most targeted tight end with 80 receptions, only behind Kansas City’s Travis Kelce. With 690 receiving yards, that saw him rank 6th amongst tight ends and he was able to connect with Brissett for 4 touchdowns over the course of the season. Doyle will likely continue to improve next season, especially if Andrew Luck returns and therefore is certainly one to look forward to in 2018.

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