The Indianapolis Colts announced on Wednesday that Sanjay Lal will serve as the team’s new wide receivers coach–replacing Lee Hull from last season.
The 47 year old Lal has spent the past two seasons as the Buffalo Bills wide receiver coach. Prior to joining the Bills, Lal was the wide receivers coach for the New York Jets (2012-14) and Oakland Raiders (2009-11) among his other coaching stops.
Lal was a wide receiver for the University of Washington (1990-92), where he played on the Huskies National Championship team in 1992 and was a member of two Rose Bowl teams. He was later inducted into the the Husky Hall of Fame.
"Nov 27, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) runs down field during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at New Era Field. Buffalo defeated Jacksonville 28-21. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports“That’s the one guy I don’t want to leave. If he leaves, I don’t how my mindset would be, honestly,” said Watkins. “That’s a guy that kind of groomed me into running routes and doing everything the right way.”“Mentality, both mental and physical. If he leaves, that will hurt. Because that’s the guy that kind of helped this whole group form a mentality and shape us into professionals. He gave us the whole script, off the field, on the field. I think it’s helping this wide receiver group and helping the players. If he leaves, that will hurt.”"
Obviously, when a very talented wide receiver like Watkins says something like this, it should carry a great deal of weight and speaks to Lal’s coaching ability.
It’s worth noting that the Philadelphia Eagles also recently had interest in Lal for their vacant wide receivers coach position.
Simply put, Lal will have his work cut out for him with the Colts.
While Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton finished as the league’s receiving title king with 1,448 receiving yards to go along with 91 receptions and 6 touchdown receptions–earning his third straight Pro Bowl appearance, the Colts need more from their remaining wide receiver corps.
Starter Donte Moncrief led the team with a team-high seven touchdown receptions, but finished with just 30 receptions for 307 total receiving yards otherwise (limited by injuries that cost him 7 games). The Colts have to be more efficient at improving Moncrief’s production outside of the red zone as well.
Meanwhile, former 2015 first round pick Phillip Dorsett underwent an underwhelming 2nd-year season with just 33 receptions for 528 receiving yards and 2 touchdown receptions. Lal will likely be called upon to get much more production out of Dorsett.
It’s worth noting that the Colts receivers finished with the 7th most dropped passes last season with 25 total drops, so there’s definitely room for improvement there as well.
We’ll see if Lal can improve the Colts receiving production going forward and get the young unit to become more consistent. However, he is highly regarded and appears to be very qualified for this coaching position.