Michael Pittman Jr.’s stats reflect a huge problem with the Colts

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) makes a catch Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) makes a catch Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. /

The Indianapolis Colts had a lot of problems offensively but one of their biggest problems is reflected in Michael Pittman Jr.‘a stats.

In 2021, Michael Pittman Jr. established himself as the No. 1 receiver for the Indianapolis Colts. He caught 88 passes for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. Much like everything else about the Colts, Pittman didn’t have as good a season in 2022 as he did in the year prior. Pittman did improve his total number of receptions to 99 in 2022, however, he only had 925 receiving yards. Having 99 catches as a receiver and not reaching 1000 yards is not good, and it perfectly captures one of the biggest problems of the Indianapolis offense.

The offense for the Colts was pretty bad all around during this past season but the inability to create explosive plays was a huge issue. Part of that was because the offensive line didn’t always give plays time to develop but coaching and quarterback play was also to blame. To show just how bizarre it is for a receiver to have 99 receptions and under 1000 receiving yards, let’s look at some other numbers from around the league.

In the 2022 season, 14 players caught 87 or more passes. Of those 14, only two had less than 1000 receiving yards: Pittman and Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers. Ekeler is a running back, so naturally, his receptions are designed to be shorter. As far as receivers and tight ends, having that many catches but not the yards to match means the offense needs serious work.

Colts desperately need a more explosive offense

How can Indianapolis fix this? Well, it starts with all of the decisions the team has to make this offseason. Indy must choose the right quarterback and head coach, and that could make a world of difference— especially the coach part. Whoever is hired as head coach doesn’t necessarily have to be a play-calling guru or an offensive coach at all but they certainly need to put someone in the offensive coordinator spot who is. I think all fans were tired of seeing the Colts run wide receiver screens that never worked last season, so a coordinator that eliminates those will certainly make the offense a bit more explosive.

The next step is improving the offensive line. Offensive linemen are not always associated with big plays in the passing game but they’re critical in the equation. The line has to create time for the play to develop, and before that, the linemen have to provide the play caller with the confidence to call long-developing plays. Going back to the wide receiver screen problem, the reason that play was probably so frequently used on third downs last season is because the Colts couldn’t protect the passer, especially on obvious passing downs.

All of this has to change before next season. For the first time in a while, the Colts have the weapons for an offense that could be explosive. Sure they could use more additions but with Pittman, rookies Alec Pierce and Jelani Woods, as well as Parris Campbell who needs to be re-signed, the pass catchers are no longer the biggest problem in this offense. It’s the line, coaching, and quarterback, all things that should be resolved this offseason.