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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s not a position this franchise is used to being in over the last two decades.
When people hear the ‘Indianapolis Colts’ an elite passing attack is often a common thought, considering what Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck did for this franchise.
But a potent passing offense was nowhere to be found in 2019.
The Colts had the following league rankings this past year:
30th in passing offense (194.2 yards per game)
29th in completion percentage (59.8 percent)
28th in yards per pass attempt (6.5 yards per pass attempt)
30th in passing plays of more than 20 yards (38 plays)
At their respective season-ending press conferences, both Frank Reich and Chris Ballard stressed the need to for more production when throwing the football.
“When we look at some of the stats to get feedback on how we are producing, there are a lot of areas for improvement starting with the passing game,” Reich said. “We need to get more production on the offensive side of the ball, big plays and we need to be a higher percentage. There are a lot of areas we need to get better in that area.”
“I think, as a whole, not just the quarterback position, but our passing game has to improve, unequivocally,” Ballard added. “That has to get better. You have to be able throw the football to win in this league.”
Jacoby Brissett’s inaccuracy and lack of pumping the ball down the field were two issues.
The quarterback did not get a whole lot of help from a banged-up pass catching group either. And Ballard has mentioned the need to add some more playmakers in that area.
While Brissett did protect the ball well, and the Colts offense had a nice season situationally, a couple of key metrics did not measure up.
A yards per attempt number of 6.5, coupled with a completion percentage of less than 60, is unacceptable in today’s NFL.
“We all know the chunk plays need to go up and then just a few general efficiency things in the pass game need to go up,” Reich says.
Reich also acknowledges that some of the pass game numbers (particularly yards per attempt and completion percentage) are even more head scratching, considering the strong run game the Colts had in 2019.
“I don’t think there is any one particular reason,” Reich says of the pass game struggles. “I think that is what makes it hard. I think we all need to get a little bit better and just execute a little bit better, I really do.
“I don’t think we are far away. I mean even though the numbers are down we’ve still been decent on third down, we’ve still been good in the red zone. I don’t think you can just look at the pass offense and say, ‘Well, it’s a bad year for the pass offense.’ Well, really, we have been in the top-10 on third down until the last week or two and then when you consider our fourth down conversions. Like you guys know, I have always said when you get good quarterback play you are going to be good on third down and going to be good in the red zone and we’ve been pretty solid there the whole year. We have been more than respectable being in the top-10 in those two categories. I do think that gives some positivity to the passing game, but we need to be obviously better all around.”
How far will the personnel changes go as the Colts look to be better at throwing the football in 2020?