Andrew Luck should be able to point to several different receivers as go-to guys in 2019, depending on what the defense gives him.
Luck’s final stat line during the team drill was 9-of-9 with one coverage sack.
The way Luck dissected the defense and distributed the ball to several players gave the Colts a glimpse of what their offense can look like this season. Hilton described the offense as “special” and probably the “most talented team I’ve been around.” With good health, it could become a prolific one on offense.
“This team is one of the best teams that I’ve had the privilege to bring to our fans,” owner Jim Irsay said. “It honestly matches some of the those days of Peyton [Manning], Edgerrin [James], Reggie [Wayne], all of those guys.”
One of Luck’s strongest attributes has been making average players look good, getting by with whatever he has at his disposal.
But now it’s the other way around.
Luck’s job is to find a way to keep the best group of skill-position players he’s had happy.
“You always want to get guys involved and always the biggest issue is going to be one game or a couple games in a row, a guy might not be involved,” offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said. “That can be the biggest issue, just some guy not getting their touches. But what I believe that [coach] Frank [Reich] preaches and then we turn around as coaches and preach right back again is we’ve got to love our teammates and love each other. The best teams win games, not the best individuals. The best teams win games.”
Ebron can be effective, but that likely means he won’t pass Rob Gronkowski’s single-season tight end touchdown record of 17. Hilton, as he’s done in all but one of his seven seasons, could lead the Colts in receiving yards while not having as many as he’s compiled in the past. Doyle, who has been Luck’s security blanket underneath, could see a dip in receptions.
None of that is a sign of slowing production. It’s just a matter of the Colts’ depth, especially with Reich believing they can be a top-five rushing team this season. Being selfish and worrying about individual statistics is one of the ways things could get off track offensively for the Colts.
“I don’t think we have ever worried about individual accolades. I think that’s what makes our team so good,” Ebron said. “There is no individual on this team. There is no one that is like, ‘Man, I better get this catch right now.’ … We want to win and I think that is what makes our group so tight-knit. I think that’s what makes it so much fun to come here and work. We don’t care about individual accolades. Those come with wins. As long as we are winning, it doesn’t matter.”
One of the many attributes at which Luck excels is not locking in on one receiver and being able to adapt to what the defense gives him. In every season in which he’s played at least 15 games, Luck has thrown touchdowns to at least eight different players, including 13 last season.
“Good quarterbacks know, ‘Hey, when my best guy is over there in one-on-one, I am going to take that matchup,” Sirianni said. “But if they are taking it away, I am going to take what the defense gives me, and that’s how you play winning football as a quarterback, and I believe that’s what the best quarterbacks like Andrew do.”
An example occurred during the AFC wild-card playoff game against Houston last season. Indianapolis had 69 of its 222 passing yards on the first drive before shifting to the running game. The Colts rushed for 200 yards in the victory.
“We’ve got a quarterback who likes to spread the ball around,” Reich said. “Then we’ve got premier players, right? In T.Y., Ebron, Jack. We’ve got a bunch of premier players. But we talk about this all the time: We are an unselfish group. We are an unselfish team. We like to celebrate our teammates’ success. We want everybody involved. When we are game-planning and when we are scripting — when Nick and I are going through that stuff — we are trying to change it up.”