Forgetting Fleener: Colts (Jack) Doyle Rules!
While the team lost Coby Fleener to free agency, the Indianapolis Colts haven’t missed a beat at tight end largely due to the exceptional play of hometown hero Jack Doyle.
The former local Cathedral High School standout has been elevated to the team’s 2nd tight end in the wake of Fleener’s departure to the New Orleans Saints, and so far, has been immensely productive with 13 receptions for 137 receiving yards and 2 touchdown receptions–all of which lead the Colts at the tight end position through 3 games.
For comparison purposes, Fleener currently has 10 receptions for 144 receiving yards and a touchdown with the Saints so far this season.
Originally claimed off waivers from the Tennessee Titans in 2013 as an undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky, Doyle has come a long way this season from such humble beginnings into the NFL.
His head coach Chuck Pagano said that while he’s somewhat surprised in Doyle’s development, it’s a testament to the 4th-year pro’s relentless drive and work ethic:
"“Not really. I’m not going to say, he came here for his workout how many years ago it was and then we signed him and said, ‘That guy’s going to be what he is today.’ I’d be lying if I told you that,” said Chuck Pagano on Doyle Tuesday. “But based off the kid and his work ethic, and his drive, he’s one of the best pros we’ve got on this football team as far as coming to work every single day and working to get better at his craft.”“Really smart guy and better athlete than when you see him walking down the hall and into the lunch line, you’d never picture him doing what he does on the football field, but he’s done a great job and all of the hard work and preparation that he puts in is paying off. He’s helping us win football games.”"
He wasn’t alone, as new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski called Doyle, ‘Mr. Reliable’, with his consistency and constant quest for improvement:
"“Yeah, he’s done a great job, ‘Mr. Reliable’, you know exactly what you’re going to get out of him, every play, every day,” said offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski on Wednesday. “He just keeps getting better and better and working at it. A real coachable guy…He’s the kind of guy that you love having on the team.”"
With diminutive, yet dangerous outside threats such as T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett–and in the wake of possession wideout Donte Moncrief‘s absence due to injury, Doyle has quickly emerged into Luck’s security blanket:
The 6’6″, 267 pound big bodied tight end has soft hands and surprising quickness, making him a reliable target for starting quarterback Andrew Luck–as the two are quickly developing chemistry:
The “Jack”-of-all-trades tight end–pun intended, initially made his mark on the Colts roster for doing the dirty work–namely blocking as the team’s 3rd tight end, while making a key impact on special teams.
However, it’s easy to see that there’s much more to Doyle’s game than originally thought, as he has the potential makings of one of the best all-around tight ends in football with his ability to catch and block at such a high level.
It’s Doyle’s receiving game that had flown quietly under the radar.
That is, until now.
Specifically, per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Doyle has a +73.6 receiving grade at tight end, which is rated the 10th best at the position ahead of top tight end receiving names such as the Seattle Seahawks Jimmy Graham and Jacksonville Jaguars Julius Thomas.
With a +70.5 grade overall, Doyle’s the Colts highest rated tight end so far this season, ahead of starter Dwayne Allen, who just signed for 4-years, $29.4M this past offseason.
The 26 year old tight end can simply play, and play at a high level at that–doing a lot of the little things right:
Simply put, (Jack) Doyle Rules!