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04. State of the Colts – Tight Ends
 

Posted By: sherck

TEs on the 2017 Roster:
 
  $6.000m cap hit / 27 years old / Dwayne Allen
  $0.570m cap hit / 25 years old / Erik Swoope
 
  Dwayne Allen
 
  52 targets / 35 receptions / 67.3% catch rate / 406 yards / 6 TD
 
  28th in league for TEs in receptions
  25th in league for TEs in receiving yards
  07th in league for TEs in TD receptions
  27th in league for TEs in pass plays of 20+ yards
  20th in league for TEs in # of First Down receptions
  08th in league for TEs in % of catches for First Downs (71.4%) (minimum 10 receptions on season)
 
  For his personal achievements, 2016 was his: 2nd highest yardage total, 2nd highest number of receptions, 2nd highest number of targets, 2nd highest # of TDs, and 2nd highest catch rate of his career.
 
  Honestly, Dwayne had a solidly good year as an NFL TE. He is a clear cut top 32 TE in the league performance wise making him a “starting” TE in the NFL and he had some pretty good performance totals based on his past performance (with his best year in all categories except 1 coming during his rookie year).
 
  However, the big disappointment is that the Colts are not paying him to be “one of the top 32 TEs in the NFL.’ They are paying him to be one of the top 11 TEs in the league since his contract has the 11th highest average cap hit in the league. I am not positive that many Colts fans are greatly disappointed in Dwayne’s performance more than they wanted to see a stud emerge due to the contract and Dwayne did not play like a stud this year. He played like a good TE but not a great one.
 
  Part of that is the fact that the Colts offensive line was a disaster in the first half of the year and he was probably blocking a whole lot more than some of the other ‘top” TEs were. Dennis Pitta led TEs in 2016 with receptions and was targeted 10+ times in a game six times. The most number of times Allen was targeted was six times in any given game. Those opportunities are probably more limited because BAL has both an offensive line which is a bit better than the Colts and they also have an offensive system that lets Flacco get the ball out faster allowing them to release their TE more.
 
  Also, Allen was injured during week 6 of the season against Houston and out for Weeks 7 and 8 of the season. Prior to injury, Dwayne was being targeted an average of 5.0 times a game (25 targets in 5 games); after the injury, he was only being targeted 3.1 times a game (25 targets in 8 games). Why the difference? Was it the emergence of Doyle? Was it that Allen could no longer get separation? No idea but before the injury he was targeted 4 times or more in each of the five games and after the injury he was targeted 4 or more times in only three of the eight games.
 
  Anyway, cutting Allen in 2017 would indeed free up $3.000m in cap space but I believe that would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. We have one “sure fire” weapon at WR in Hilton and then we have three young guys who have all the talent and opportunity in the world in Moncrief, Dorsett and Rogers but none of which are “sure fire” weapons. At TE, we have an emerging Doyle and a “full of potential” Swoope but neither are time tested. Throwing away a good TE like Allen solely to save $3.000m in cap space for 2017 when we already have a ton would not be a good football move, IMO.
 
  Erik Swoope
 
  22 targets / 15 receptions / 68.2% catch rate / 297 yards / 1 TD
 
  You could almost see the progression during the season. From being a guy who did not know how to strap on a helmet in 2014, to a special teams guy in 2015 to the easy running and smooth catching football player you saw in the later stages of the 2016 season was pretty exciting to see.
 
  2016 was a season of thirds for Swoope. He did not get targeted at all during the first five games of the season. In the middle third (weeks 6 – 11), he was targeted 12 times but only caught the ball 7 times (58.3% catch rate). In the final third of the season however (weeks 12 – 17), Swoope was targeted 10 times and caught 8 of those passes (80.0% catch rate) including every pass thrown to him during the final 3 weeks of the season. He looked more and more like an impact football player as the season went on.
 
  I don’t have a ton to say about him other than I hope he continues to progress in 2017. If, for some reason, the Colts either do not re-sign Doyle or let Allen go for a cap savings, then I like the potential that Swoope brings to come in and be the next “Jack Doyle” on the Colts in 2017.
 
  If the Colts do bring back all three TEs in 2017, then I think that an inventive offensive play designer (which I am not convinced we have on our staff) could design a ton of plays to bring all three TEs in, show a “jumbo” formation so induce the defense to switch to a “jumbo” defensive package and then flex our TEs out into pattern with both Allen and Swoope being able to “take it deep” on linebackers or strong safeties (or defensive linemen, hehe) while Doyle plays a more intermediate or crossing route. Or, if the defense stays in a base defense or nickel defense, then run it down their throats because both Allen and Doyle are still very good inline blockers. An offense could have some fun with that.
 
  Jack Doyle
 
  75 targets / 59 receptions / 78.7% catch rate / 584 yards / 5 TD
 
  He is not on the 2017 roster (yet!) but I am going to talk about him anyway because I really cannot image many scenarios where the Colts do not re-sign him in 2017 (unless he is just asking for stupid money).
 
  11th in the NFL for TEs in receptions
  15th in the NFL for TEs in receiving yards
  10th in the NFL for TEs in TD receptions
  22nd in the NFL for TEs in pass plays for 20+ yards
  14th in the NFL for TEs in # of First Down receptions
 
  And that spells out the dissatisfaction with Dwayne Allen’s performance in 2016. Jack Doyle just stomped all over his performance while getting paid peanuts comparably. It is really not that Dwayne had a bad year; it is just that Jack had a GREAT year while still on the last year of his “rookie” pay scale (as an undrafted rookie to boot).
 
  Jack has only not played in one game in his career (Week One of his rookie season). He has performed at a high level at every opportunity and as more chances have been given to him, he has taken them and performed! Special Teams. Fullback. Blocker. Pass Catcher. It does not matter what he is asked to do, he steps up.
 
  6 games in 2016 = He caught every ball that was thrown to him (100% completion rate)
  7 games in 2016 = He caught one less ball than the number of times he was targeted.
  3 games in 2016 = He caught at least two less balls than were thrown to him
 
  That is pretty consistent! The top four TEs in 2016 for the league (in terms of some combo of receptions, yards and TDs) were: Dennis Pitta, Travis Kelce, Kyle Rudolph, and Greg Olsen.
 
  10 games in 2016 = Pitta caught at least 2 less receptions than targets
  10 games in 2016 = Kelce caught at least 2 less receptions than targets
  13 games in 2016 = Rudolph caught at least 2 less receptions than targets
  13 games in 2016 = Olsen caught at least 2 less receptions than targets
 
  Doyle may never lead the league for the TE position in receptions……or yards…….or TDs…..or whatever. But, when Luck throws the ball his way? He is going to make the damn catch! He has pretty much got to be one of Luck’s best safety blankets and binky when on the field and for that reason alone needs to be re-signed. He just catches the ball. Like, always.
 
  I am pretty much to the point that if Jack Doyle is not re-signed, then I am ready to pull out the pitchfork and torches and march on the Colts complex because it would just be a stupid football move.
 
  2017 OUTLOOK:
 
  We have to re-sign Doyle. There is no other way to put it. He is one of those “home grown” talents that Ballard talked about in his press conference on Monday that every team needs to grow and retain. He had top ten numbers for TEs and continues to show growth in his game. He is obviously well liked in the locker room (based on Pat McAfee’s T-Shirt selection) and has a “can do” attitude when asked to do, well, about anything to help the team win.
 
  We are a stronger team with Allen, Doyle and Swoope as our TEs going into 2017.
 
  However, if push came to shove and I had to pick between given money to Allen to stay on the team or Doyle to be re-signed, I am picking to re-sign Doyle and move forward with Doyle, Swoope and someone new. Doyle just excels.
 
  Next up, Offensive Line.
 
  Cheers,...
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