INDIANAPOLIS – The offense was never thought to be the side of the ball to receive gobs of attention in free agency from the Colts.
But Chris Ballard has showed it some love over the past month.
Here's a look at how the offense has changed in Indianapolis with free agency largely over:
*Tight End Jack Doyle (Colts) *-2016 Stats: 16 games played (14 starts). Career-highs in receptions (59), receiving yards (584) and touchdowns (5). His 78.7 catch percentage led all NFL tight ends and ranked ninth in the NFL.
-Career Stats: 63 career games played (21 starts) in 4 seasons. Has 94 receptions for 793 yards and 8 touchdowns since joining the NFL in 2013.
-Doyle's Quote to Note on the Colts being one of the NFL's top offenses: "We have no excuses not to be. We have the pieces. Having (offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) again is huge for us. Another year in that offense is going to be expanded even more and let us be able to do a lot more. I'm really excited to get into April and running plays. It's an exciting time and I'm pumped for the team to continue to grow."
-Chris Ballard's Thoughts: "Jack Doyle was an important guy. He stood for everything we want to stand for. He worked. He earned his way. And had a really good season last year. I thought that deserved to be rewarded. And that's what I want our players to understand. When you do the right things and you produce, you're going to get rewarded for it."
-Outlook: A year ago Jack Doyle was probably not even a top-five pass catching option for Andrew Luck. He definitely is that now. The Colts re-signed Doyle two days before the start of free agency. His need became even greater a day later when the Colts sent Dwayne Allen to New England. Doyle is the last player you have to worry about being in the right spot and Luck does not hesitate turning to the Indy native in big-time moments. Chris Ballard's quote should say plenty for how the Colts think of Doyle. Now, the Colts need a little more vocal leadership out of the "lead by example" Doyle.
*Offensive Lineman Brian Schwenke (Titans) *-2016 Stats: 16 games played (3 starts). First time Schwenke had played in all 16 games in his four NFL seasons. The three starts came at left guard.
-Career Stats: 41 career games played (28 starts) at guard and center since being taken in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
-Schwenke's Quote to Note: "The big reason I wanted to be here was they were going to give me an opportunity to compete to start on Sunday's."
-Chris Ballard's Thoughts: "We are excited to add Brian to our offensive line group. Brian's versatility was what made him most attractive to us and he will provide more competition at the position group."
-Outlook: The Colts told Schwenke he will be competing for a starting job. That opportunity will likely have to come at right guard, with Joe Haeg probably the favorite there after the way the rookie finished the year. But if the Colts move Haeg back out to right tackle, Schwenke could very well enter the starting lineup. In Schwenke, the Colts have a versatile interior lineman that, at worst, should be a Jonotthan Harrison-type---serving as the team's top interior reserve lineman.
*Running Back Robert Turbin (Colts) *-2016 Stats: 15 games played. 47 carries for 164 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns. Had 26 receptions and 179 receiving yards while catching one touchdown.
-Career Stats: 73 career games (3 starts). 328 carries for 1,291 yards (3.9 avg.) and 8 touchdowns.
-Turbin's Quote to Note: "My goal (last season) was to contribute to this team in the best way I could. Whether it was with 15 carries a game or 6, or play special teams and buy in. If those were the kind of things that were going to help us win, then that's what I wanted to do. I give a lot of credit to Frank (Gore). Without him and his mentorship, there's a lot of things that I don't do, that I did last season. He's an incredible leader. We had a great coach, a great offensive coordinator, who really taught me some things about the game that I didn't know as well. That's what is great about this game and this league. There's always something you can learn to get better. I've always focused solely on getting better."
-Chris Ballard's Thoughts: "Robert's had success in this league and he really niched out a role for us last year. It'll be interesting to see if he can progress even more on first and second down and take some of the load off. But that'll be completely up to our coaching staff and Robert and how he performs. But we wanted Robert back. He's a great pro and he's even a better human being. I really enjoy being around him. Those are the kind of guys your root for."
-Outlook: Turbin wants a bigger role. Chris Ballard could see that happening. It makes sense giving Turbin more looks on early downs. Frank Gore is another year older and Turbin was very productive last year. Where Turbin's reps could really fluctuate will come from how the Colts address the running back need during the draft. If the Colts find an impact ball carrier in the draft, that's probably going to eat into whatever role the Colts have for Turbin. But the Colts do know that Turbin should be capable of handling whatever Rob Chudzinski wants to throw at Frank Gore's backup.
*Tight End Brandon Williams (Seahawks) *-2016 Stats: 16 games played (1 start). 2 catches for 36 yards.
-Career Stats: 45 career games (1 start). Has caught 6 career passes for 80 yards
-Williams' Quote to Note: "I'm definitely excited to work with Jack (Doyle). I feel like we have a lot in common. He definitely started from the bottom and worked his way up. Just to see what he's done throughout the years and from where he's come from is an inspiration. I'm excited to work with him."
-Outlook: Unless an injury happens, the likely role for Brandon Williams will primary be on special teams in 2017. Teams typically don't have a third tight end involved extensively in an offensive game plan. Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox are the top two tight ends. They should play a lot. The Colts have said they would like to draft a tight end. Where does that leave Williams? Special teams is probably the main fit. Williams does have nine career special teams tackles.
*Wide Receiver Kamar Aiken (Ravens) *-2016 Stats: 16 games played (6 starts). 29 receptions for 328 yards and 1 touchdown.
-Career Stats: 51 career games played (20 starts) in 5 seasons. Has 128 career catches for 1,539 yards and nine touchdowns.
-Aiken's Quote to Note: "I'm going to add a physical aspect, but also add a speed aspect as well. I'm a speed guy, too. People don't like to give me that credit."
-Chris Ballard's Thoughts: "A bigger receiver, a great guy, great teammate, tough, will do the dirty work. We thought he was just a really good fit to add competition to the group, and he will do that. He's a great pro. He's an example of a guy who just keeps gritting it out and finds a way to create a niche and a role. We think Kamar's got a lot of upside. Look, we added competition, but it's not just competition for Phillip (Dorsett). It's competition for (Donte) Moncrief also."
-Outlook: Aiken's role in 2017 is one of the greater unknowns of all the new faces. What Aiken does bring is a frame and red-zone presence that the Colts were lacking at times last season. Aiken gives Rob Chudzinski some flexibility in how he wants to handle the wide receivers. Donte Moncrief and Aiken are your bigger body guys. T.Y. Hilton and Jacoby Brissett bring more of the speed element. Whether used situationally or in various personnel groupings, Aiken should give the Colts a reliable veteran presence. Chris Ballard said it above: the addition of Aiken brings competition to the young receivers---guys the Colts want/need to see reach their potential.
The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.*