Colts TE Coby Fleener Working on Consistency
By Evan Reller
Indianapolis Colts tight end Coby Fleener can simultaneously be a dynamic pass catcher and perpetual disappointment. One game he is hauling in all his targets and putting up over a 100 yards; the next he’s dropping half his passes and is a ghost on the field (and not in a good way).
What is impressive about the former Stanford player is that through three years, Fleener leads all Colts tight ends in receptions. He’s significantly ahead of Dallas Clark and Hall of Famer John Mackey in this category. Fleener is also just behind Mackey in touchdowns and yardage.
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From that chart we can tell that Fleener is already in great company and that Mackey was a beast, averaging 20 yards per reception through his first three seasons. Fleener already is 32nd all-time in yardage and 40th in receptions in franchise history.
But through three years Fleener is still maddeningly inconsistent. He had six dropped passes in 2014 and Andrew Luck threw three interceptions on passes intended for Fleener.
It is tough to argue with Fleener’s production, but the number of plays he leaves on the field could easily take him from a decent player to a Pro Bowler. In an interview with Mike Chappell, Fleener talked about taking the next step in his play.
"“There’s stuff that anybody who’s watching the game can pick out,’’ Fleener said of his personal points of emphasis moving forward. “(Dropped passes) are probably the most frustrating because everybody can see them.“Your flubs are aired in front of the whole world. Whether you’re sitting at a desk all day or whether you’re playing football, nobody wants to make the ‘Not Top 10.’ Unfortunately I’ve been there and I’m trying to limit that as much as possible.’’Fleener described his first three seasons as “up-and-down, up-and-down, but hopefully trending in the right direction. I’m trying to be as consistent as possible. That’s been my No. 1 goal.’’"
The advanced stats give mixed results on Fleener too. Pro Football Focus has Fleener ranked 36th among tight ends last season. And while he had a +4.6 in the passing game, his overall score was a -3.2 when taking in his deficiencies as a blocker.
Football Outsiders has Fleener 10th in DYAR (total value) and 15th in DVOA (value per play). A catch rate under 60 percent doesn’t help matter either.
There is going to be more pressure for the pass catchers to produce this season with the Colts have more mouths to feed in 2015. The Colts have said they won’t abandon the tight end sets, despite the plethora of wide receivers, and that is mainly due to the talent of Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
Fleener is entering a contract year, but isn’t letting that affect his play on the field.
"“I’m not worrying about that,’’ Fleener said. “This year for me is just about making sure every single play is done correctly. At this point in my career, there should be no more mental errors.“It’s easy to say, but hard to do.’’"
While a repeat of last season would look good on the stat sheet (51 receptions, 774 yards, and eight touchdowns) the Colts need Fleener to be more consistent in 2015. But even if Fleener doesn’t change, the Colts will still be fielding one of the more efficient offenses in the NFL.