Colts WR-Pierre Garcon Working to Improve on First Season as a Starter
INDIANAPOLIS – As Pierre Garcon sees it, he needs to improve.
Garcon, a third-year wide receiver for the Colts, said during the 2010 off-season the really good news about that is not only does he expect to improve, he believes he has done so and continues to do so.
He's improving as a route runner.
He's improving his hands.
He's learning more about defenses, and reading them.
He said he's even improving his speed.
"There's always room for improvement," Garcon said during the Colts' recent organized team activities, four weeks of on-field, team-oriented activities that concluded recently at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"There are always jumps to be made."
Garcon (6-feet-0, 210 pounds) made serious jumps last season.
And those jumps not only helped Garcon become one of the NFL's top young receivers, they helped the Colts improve as an offense from the season before and helped them qualify for the Super Bowl for a second time in four seasons.
Garcon, who played collegiately at Mount Union (Pa.), played sparingly as a rookie in 2008, then when starter Anthony Gonzalez sustained a knee injury in Week 1, he moved into the starting lineup.
He stayed there the rest of the season.
And Garcon, a sixth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, not only stayed there, starting the final 13 games he played and emerging as one of the Colts' top big-play threats.
Garcon, after catching four passes for 23 yards as a rookie who played mostly on special teams, caught 47 passes for 765 yards and four touchdowns.
"It takes a while to get comfortable and relaxed," Garcon said. "Once you get that feel, you get to be loose and play at full speed."
Garcon said his life has changed in more ways than one since last off-season.
While he improved throughout his first season as a full-time starter, a significant off-field change came in the post-season. He was in Indianapolis preparing for the Colts' AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens when an earthquake hit and devastated Haiti. Garcon, whose parents were born in Haiti and who has numerous relatives on the island, established the Pierre Garcon Helping Hands Foundation, with the goal of providing education and food relief in Haiti.
Garcon's dedication to earthquake relief drew national attention throughout the Colts' run to the Super Bowl, and earlier this off-season, Pop Warner Little Scholars Inc., presented him the Warner Award, which is "presented to an individual who has achieved excellence in athletics, scholarship, and life's endeavors with integrity and humanity."
"It's been crazy," Garcon said. "It's a whole 360 since last year."
On the field, Garcon said his work is far from complete. The Colts often talk of players being able to improve dramatically from their first to their second year, and considering Garcon played sparing as a rookie, he said in a sense he is entering his second full NFL season next season.
Garcon finished last season with a 16.3-yards-per-reception average, the highest among Colts receivers, and in 10 of his 14 regular-season games played, he had a reception of at least 20 yards. Yet, he said as an overall receiver, "I still have a long way to go. I still can get better in all phases of the game. I haven't made it yet. There's always room for improvement."
One area Garcon said can improve: reading coverages. The Colts' offense is one of the NFL's most complex, and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning spends extensive time each off-season working with the team's receivers to develop timing. Garcon said experience both in the season and during the off-season is critical.
"The more you know about defenses, and what they're going to do, the more advantage you have on your side," he said.
Mostly, Garcon said, his focus as he enters his third season is to continue to do what he did last season, which was to provide the Colts a big-play element. In Week 2 against Miami his speed turned a quick screen into a 48-yard, game-winning touchdown pass in a nationally-televised Monday Night Football Game. A week later, a 53-yard touchdown reception from Manning helped the Colts beat Arizona in prime time.
"Making plays," Garcon said, when asked how he can add to his game. "Not making mental mistakes. Making the big catches, the big plays and giving the team what it needs."
Garcon did that at an increasing rate last season, and his production improved in the post-season. In three post-season games, he caught 21 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns, with his 11-reception, 151-yard, one-touchdown performance critical in the Colts' AFC Championship Game victory over the New York Jets.
Garcon also caught a 19-yard touchdown in the first half of the Super Bowl, and said although the Colts' offense is a constantly evolving entity, he feels increasingly comfortable as an NFL receiver.
And that, he said, should make his goal of improving something that remains as attainable as it is imant.
"It's more comfortable now," he said. "We're changing a few things now. We're all adjusting. But I'm a lot more comfortable than I was."