As the Colts’ disappointing season winds down, I will go over how every Colt has played this season. Following my analysis, I will give them a grade from A+ to F. Today we will go over the “B” group, including B+, B, and B-.
(Once again, this segment will be fairly short. Soon we will get into the sea of mediocrity, and the pit of absolute garbage.)
Read about the “A” players here.
What more can I say about Frank Gore at this point? The 34 year old is doing things that no running back his age should be able to do. Gore has been a consistent force on early downs and early in games. This season, Gore has racked up 861 yards and three touchdowns, and would have had a chance to eclipse 1,000 yards if the Colts were not playing from behind so often. Gore has broken countless records this season, and ranks fifth on the all time rushing list. Frank Gore will go down as one of the best backs in history, and deserves a Super Bowl ring. Wether the Colts will be able to get him one before he retires is yet to be determined.
Although Hilton had a down year in 2017, much of that can be attributed to the loss of Andrew Luck. Despite this, elite receivers should be able to produce without a great quarterback (see DeAndre Hopkins). In Hilton’s defense, he has done a good job getting open, Jacoby Brissett just hasn’t been able to find him. Against Baltimore, he was targeted 12 times, by far the most on the season, and had a very solid game, racking up 100 yards.
Hilton did not have a bad season by any stretch of the mind, with 952 yards and four touchdowns through 16 weeks. Sure T.Y. Hilton isn’t the leading receiver in the game like last season, but he is still top 15 with an average at best quarterback. He also ranks third in yards per reception, with 17.6. There are arguments that Hilton is not a top receiver in this league, but with a healthy Andrew Luck, that all could change.
Jack Doyle, Mr. Reliable, “The Jack of All Trades,” had a disappointing season. That being said, it was still good enough to fall in the “B” range. Two seasons ago, the Colts parted ways with Coby Fleener, and Jack Doyle shone the next year with 584 yards and five touchdowns. This offseason, the Patriots traded for Dwayne Allen, and the Colts handed over the reigns to Jack Doyle. Doyle was always a good run blocking tight end, and has proven himself to be a solid receiver.
Many touted Doyle to be one of the top tight ends before the season; Andrew Luck’s injury had a large role in his underwhelming year. Similar to Hilton’s situation, Doyle’s season was very solid. Doyle caught 76 passes for 652 yards and three touchdowns. Doyle had many games where he was a non factor, and others where he was unstoppable. Against Cincinnati, Doyle caught 12 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. With a healthy Andrew Luck, Doyle could blossom into the player that many thought he would this season.
After Pat McAfee unexpectedly retired last offseason, the Colts went into panic mode. One of the best special teams units in the NFL lost their captain, in arguably the best punter in the NFL. To replace McAfee, the Colts acquired former Viking Jeff Locke. People touted Locke to be the sure starter, but lost his job to undrafted free agent kicker/punter Rigoberto Sanchez out of Hawaii. Sanchez surprised everyone by winning the starting punter job, and has not looked back since.
Sanchez ranks top 10 in punts, punt yards, and touchback percentage. Sanchez’s versatility also makes him a very useful asset for the Colts moving forward. Sanchez has seamlessly taken over kickoff duties, preserving Adam Vinatieri’s leg. In the event of an injury to Vinatieri, or his eventual retirement (if that ever happens) Sanchez can kick field goals and extra points. Sanchez will continue to develop into a very good punter over the next few seasons.
Where do I start with Jacoby Brissett? The second year quarterback has gone through the trials of fire, and has come out the other end in one piece. At times, Brissett has looked like a very promising NFL quarterback, and at other times, he has looked like a guy who just doesn’t belong. But through his rollercoaster of a season, I couldn’t justify grading him any lower than a B-.
The Colts traded bust wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the Patriots for the promising Jacoby Brissett about a week before the season. Remember, most thought that Andrew Luck would return within a few weeks. Nobody, not even Jim Irsay expected that Brissett would play the whole season.
Fast forward to week one, and Scott Tolzien, the starting quarterback, just had maybe the worst three quarters by any quarterback, ever, and the worst I have ever seen (unfortunately in person). He threw two pick sixes in the same place, and should have thrown one more. In the fourth quarter, Jacoby Brissett was inserted. Brissett was facing an insurmountable task. He had only been a member of the Colts for a week; he did not know anyone, let alone the playbook. Despite this, he shone, and gave the Colts something to be excited about.
This season, Jacoby Brissett’s numbers of 2,984 yards, 12 touchdowns, and seven interceptions is nothing spectacular, but quite impressive for a guy in his situation. Jacoby Brissett’s future is a big fat grey area. The Colts could trade him to a quarterback needy team, keep him as a backup, or in the worst case, use him as a starter if Luck is never the same. Brissett has plenty to work on, from holding onto the ball for too long to his confidence. Nevertheless, Jacoby Brissett boasted an impressive first season as an NFL starter.
One of the biggest surprises of the season, Mike Person stepped in during Ryan Kelly’s injury plagued season, and performed better than anyone expected. Person played in 11 games this season, and has been a bright spot on this abysmal offensive line. In two of his toughest matchups, against the Ravens and Jaguars, Person shone. In the Colts’ 30-10 loss to Jacksonville in week 13, Person was the only Colt to give up zero pressures, an impressive feat against the best line in the NFL. He was featured in PFF’s team of the week for that week. Against the ravens, the Colts’ line, captained by Person, had one of its best games of the season, opening up running lanes and protecting Brissett. Baltimore only sacked Brissett twice. Going forward, Person will be incredibly valuable as a backup lineman, or even a future starter at a different position.
One of Chris Ballard’s biggest free agent signings, Johnathan Hankins was expected to come in and anchor the middle of this rebuilt Colts defense. For the most part, he succeeded in this expectation. Hankins did a good job stuffing the run and pushing the pocket. Hankins recorded 44 tackles, two sacks, and three pass deflections. The Colts’ rush defense marginally improved from last season (24th t0 22nd), but the majority of the problem came from the Colts’ abysmal linebacker play. Along with Al Woods, Johnathan Hankins should be a useful piece on the Colts’ defensive line for years to come.
The Colts picked up Barkevious Mingo to provide solid depth in pass rush; he has far exceeded that role. The Cleveland Browns drafted Mingo with the sixth overall pick in 2013 to be a dominant pass rusher. And to absolutely everyone’s surprise (ha!) he busted. Chris Ballard saw the opportunity to pick up a guy with some great potential, and hit a home run. His one year, $2.5 million contract is absolutely nothing, and he will surely be in a Colts uniform come next season. Mingo only has two sacks on the year, but did not see many snaps early in the season, and has been more versatile than anyone imagine. He stepped up when star John Simon went down, and played well in pass rush, run defense, and even coverage. The Colts are still looking to add an elite pass rusher this offseason; maybe Mingo can be that guy?
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, and the AFC South Division Editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_ and @FPC_Colts.