The Indianapolis Colts opted not to bring back tight end Coby Fleener this season, and the new member of the Saints had some choice words for his old team.
The Colts had a tough decision when it came to who to re-sign this offseason. A deep 2012 draft class meant that there wouldn’t be enough money to keep everyone and the team opted to let tight end Coby Fleener walk and retained Dwayne Allen.
Fleener initially seemed to be the one they’d re-sign due to his ability to stay healthy, better overall production, and the fact that he’s been playing with Andrew Luck since college. But the GM Ryan Grigson went with the more dynamic and versatile tight end and Fleener signed a deal with the New Orleans Saints.
"“I think it’s one of those situations where it really reveals character,” Fleener said. “The guys that kept fighting through it — knowing that we may not have our star quarterback on the field but we still have a chance to win the game — those are the guys you want kind of in your corner. And the other guys, it becomes pretty apparent that they’re along for the ride.”"
First off, Fleener doesn’t throw out any names so it isn’t really clear who he is talking about. Second, for a guy who was the butt of jokes all season and who has been questioned for his effort for years this is high comedy. Fleener might be the team poster child for not trying hard on the field. Any time he had positive yards after the catch last season it was surprising.
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He has been much maligned for his lack of effort on route running and blocking for years now. Fleener certainly wasn’t a bad player, but he wasn’t a game changer either. Among pass catching tight ends (those with a minimum of 25 receptions), he ranked near the bottom of the league last season in efficiency.
We can list out Fleener’s issues (doesn’t fight for passes or first downs, can’t break tackles, has issues with drops) and how that played into the effectiveness of the offense last season. The play from the quarterback position was inconsistent last year, as he said, but that doesn’t mean that Fleener was playing as hard as possible on every down.
If we look at offense, Fleener might be calling out Allen who wasn’t used as a receiver very often. It would certainly make sense that he’d call out the guy who kept his job, but Allen’s effort has never been questioned (generally just his usage and health). We know it wasn’t Frank Gore, who played about as hard as you can behind a porous offensive line.
Maybe Fleener meant Andre Johnson, who was brought in for a title run and struggled all season long, but that doesn’t account for Johnson’s declining skill set and diminishing speed. T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief certainly didn’t take plays off either.
Honestly, if we are looking for someone who didn’t give maximum effort on every play offensively it would either be an offensive lineman (and that’s more a talent issue) or Fleener. This might have played a part in the Colts decision not to re-sign him as they really didn’t show much interest in negotiations.
"“The Colts’ lack of interest and the Saints’ interest made going to New Orleans an easy choice,” Fleener said during the interview."
As for the Saints, Fleener will probably be a good fit for them. He’s more of a really big wide receiver than a true tight end and Sean Payton enjoys lining his tight end up in the slot to create matchup problems. With Drew Brees throwing him the ball, Fleener will likely have a very good 2016 campaign.
It sounded like Fleener was a bit disappointed about last season and bitter at not being re-signed, but he isn’t the person to be calling others out on their lack of effort.