Colts naughty or nice list: Who deserves a gift on Christmas and who’s getting coal?

Some Indianapolis Colts players and staff have excelled in 2023, while others have unfortunately fallen short of expectations.
Denver Broncos v Indianapolis Colts
Denver Broncos v Indianapolis Colts / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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Naughty No. 3: Isaiah McKenzie

The Colts signed wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie in the offseason with high hopes. The 2022 season was the best of McKenzie’s six-year career as he caught 65 passes for 423 receiving yards on the Buffalo Bills. General manager Chris Ballard brought McKenzie in to compete for the starting slot receiver role and to potentially earn a lot of work in Indianapolis' new-look offense.

However, that vision hasn’t panned out at all. Through Week 15, McKenzie has been targeted just 14 times which he’s turned into 11 catches and 82 yards. To put that in perspective, nine Indianapolis players — including three wideouts, four tight ends, and two running backs — are ahead of McKenzie in receiving yards this year. McKenzie’s 2023 numbers are easily his worst since his first season in the NFL.

Admittedly, McKenzie has been a frequent contributor on special teams as a returner but even that hasn’t gone so smoothly as McKenzie averaged only 8.9 yards per punt return and fumbled the ball three times. To make matters worse, the Colts announced that McKenzie (as well as cornerback Tony Brown) had been suspended for the rest of the year “for conduct detrimental to the team.”

Nice No. 3: Michael Pittman Jr.

The Indianapolis offense has been very productive this season. While there are a couple of standout players, wide receiver Michael Pittman deserves a ton of praise. Pittman has been wildly effective this season, leading the team in virtually every receiving stat. With 99 catches (third-most in the NFL), 1,062 yards, and four touchdowns through 14 games, this year will easily be the best of Pittman’s career.

That’s even more impressive when you factor in all of the obstacles Pittman has faced — learning to play with a new QB (twice), adjusting to a first-year coach, and dealing with iffy QB play and plenty of attention from opposing defenses. Pittman has been showing flashes of elite potential ever since he entered the league in 2020, but this season has proved he can be a high-volume, go-to No. 1 option on a good NFL offense.