Losing is never fun, especially when it’s a game that you could’ve, and should’ve, won. The Indianapolis Colts had to deal with that after losing to the Cleveland Browns 39-38 on Sunday. Despite performing far better than expected, some costly mistakes, and controversial officiating, led to Indy’s fourth loss of the 2023 season.
Immediately following the game, one of Indy’s most frustrated players seemed to be wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. In addition to losing, Pittman was also frustrated with his usage, as he explained in a very honest conversation with Nate Atkins of the IndyStar. Pittman told Atkins, “They just didn’t target me today, for whatever reason. Maybe I’m not a big part of the offense.”
Pittman had even more to say about how he handled not getting that many targets, and why he feels it’s beneficial for the offense to throw his way.
"When I do get the ball, I feel like I always do something with it. Just know that I'm viable to break off a big one in any situation vs. any team. I'm just trying to show the coaches that I'm out there, too. It was frustrating. I was frustrated. I was just trying to keep my composure to myself and not try to project that onto anybody else."- Michael Pittman Jr. (via Nate Atkins)
His comments now have everyone wondering if the Colts have a frustrated receiver on their hands.
Michael Pittman Jr. wasn’t happy with his lack of targets in Colts loss to Browns
In Sunday’s game, Pittman was targeted just five times, and he finished with two catches for 83 yards, with one of the catches being a clutch 75-yard touchdown. Pittman could’ve had another touchdown as well, but Gardner Minshew threw the ball behind him on a play where Pittman was open for a score. Still, Pittman was only second on the team in targets, trailing rookie Josh Downs, who had six passes thrown his way, catching five for 125 yards and one touchdown.
This was likely just an example of a frustrated competitor talking right after a loss. For a top receiver like Pittman, finishing a game with just two catches can definitely elicit these emotions. However, he knows he’s a big part or the Colts offense. On the season, Pittman has been targeted 65 times, catching 42 passes for 489 yards and two touchdowns. He leads Indy in every receiving category; the next highest targeted receiver is Downs with 47. Pitman has received double digit targets in four of Indy’s seven games; he’s clearly the team’s No. 1 receiver.
But again, this is a competitor fresh off a loss. It’s understandable why he’d be upset. However, his frustration would hold more substance if Indy’s offense didn’t put up 456 yards and 38 points against the league’s No. 1 defense. The issue wasn’t that Pittman wasn’t involved, because the offense was productive. The problem was that Gardner Minshew had four turnovers and that the defense struggled to get a stop late.
Regardless, receivers always want more targets, especially when the team isn’t winning. Top receivers believe they could change the outcome of games if targeted more— which they should. So we’ll see if Shane Steichen feeds Michael Pittman Jr. in Week 8 when the Colts take on the New Orleans Saints.