Colts fans may owe Chris Ballard an apology
Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts endured a lot of heat all offseason but it now may be time for that criticism to turn into apologies.
All offseason, Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts were heavily criticized for one specific reason. That reason was Indy’s refusal to add to the wide receiver group. After having an underwhelming group of pass catchers last season, Ballard opted to draft young guys instead of signing proven veterans. The gamble on the youth was one that fans and media members were sure wasn’t going to pay off.
Through training camp and the beginning of the season, Ballard’s gamble didn’t look good. The pass catchers were inconsistent and it was evident they were young. Without quality receivers in today’s NFL, a team won’t accomplish much. However, the young guys on Indy’s offense have recently started to prove Ballard right while making the rest of the world believers.
As the Colts enter Week 7 at 3-2-1, quarterback Matt Ryan is second in the NFL in passing yards and a big reason why is the contributions from the young targets that many feared would not be ready to step up.
Colts’ young pass catchers proving Chris Ballard right
Michael Pittman Jr. has been the most consistent force but that was expected. All the questions were about the other weapons on the offense. Those other guys have been led by two rookies, Alec Pierce and Jelani Woods, the first two selections in the draft for the Colts.
Pierce has emerged as Indy’s No. 2 receiver with 18 receptions for 271 yards and one touchdown. He has been getting better each game and is playing himself into the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. Jelani Woods, on the other hand, has been working to increase his snap count but he makes the most of the plays he does get. He currently has three touchdowns on just five receptions for 73 yards. He’s a big play waiting to happen.
Parris Campbell also came alive in Week 6 and now looks to contribute even more with Ashton Dulin sidelined, someone who was consistently making plays when he was healthy. Both tight ends Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson have over 100 receiving yards and so does Nyheim Hines. So currently, the Colts may not have multiple elite options but they do have Pittman who is a solidified No. 1, a promising Pierce, and several other guys that have been able to step up when the ball comes their way.
However, Ballard isn’t quite out of the clear yet. The key is consistency. These young weapons must continue to show up and keep developing. The second they underwhelm, all of the chatter will certainly come back. That’s just how it works. But for now, the Colts have a group of weapons that fans can be excited about.