Colts are hoping to make YAC a big part of the offense again

Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr. looks for extra yards after one of his five catches.Jg 010921 Bills 28
Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr. looks for extra yards after one of his five catches.Jg 010921 Bills 28 /

The Indianapolis Colts will try to manufacture yards after the catch in their offense this season after struggling to do so last year.

YAC is one of the most used terms in football. It stands for yards after catch and it’s something all good receivers are able to do. Once they get the ball in their hands, they’re usually able to make something happen and pick up some additional yards after the catch. It’s something that makes offenses better and helps the overall team.

It’s also something the Indianapolis Colts struggled to do last season. The receiving struggles for the Colts have been well-publicized. It’s been reported with depth how Michael Pittman Jr. was the only consistent pass catcher in Indy and how he was the only wideout with more than 400 receiving yards.

However, how much the Colts struggled to produce yards after the catch isn’t as discussed. It’s something that was obvious during games, but looking at the stats shows how bad it really was for Indianapolis.

The Colts only had 1,608 yards after the catch as a team. That was dead last in the entire NFL, comfortably. The New Orleans Saints were 31st with 1,634. The Kansas City Chiefs were No. 1 with 2,700.

However, this isn’t the norm for Indianapolis and they are currently working on improving it. The biggest change Indy has made to improve the team’s YAC is at the quarterback position.

Matt Ryan will help Colts produce YAC

While YAC is a pass-catching stat, and the best runners ultimately create magic once the ball is in their hands, the quarterback plays a big role in helping a receiver run after the catch.

Based on how and when the quarterback gets a receiver the ball determines how many yards they’ll be able to get after the reception. Is the receiver able to catch the ball in stride and keep running or does he have to adjust to corral the ball before trying to get upfield?

In 2020, when Philip Rivers was Indy’s quarterback, he was great with timing routes and getting Indy’s receivers the ball in positions where they could easily advance upfield. That’s why the Colts had the fourth-highest YAC in 2020 with 2,249 yards.

However, timing and precision weren’t Carson Wentz’s strength last season, and Indy’s overall YAC suffered as a result. But, those things are Matt Ryan’s strengths.

That means the offense will likely be designed around timing routes and getting the playmakers the ball in a position where they can dance around defenders. If things go according to plan, the Colts’ YAC numbers could be back towards the top of the league.