Back in Week 7, when Jonathan Taylor rushed for 107 yards to help lead the Colts to a win over the San Francisco 49ers in a bomb cyclone, Jack Doyle lined up to block Nick Bosa on nine running plays.
The 6-foot-4, 266 pound Bosa is, of course, one of the most talented defensive ends in the NFL. He leads the league with 18 tackles for a loss.
And he didn't tackle Taylor once when Doyle was assigned to block him.
Whether Doyle was firing like an offensive lineman from a three-point stance at the snap, motioning from right to left before the snap or dashing along the line of scrimmage post-snap, he took care of Bosa and made sure the former No. 2 overall pick didn't blow up a run game the Colts had to lean on in those brutal Bay Area weather conditions.
"I call him Mr. Reliable," Taylor said. "Jack is going to always be where he needs to be and execute what he needs to execute."
Doyle, now in Year 9 with the Colts, is a shining example of the kind of player and person Frank Reich appreciates in his offense. In that game against the 49ers, Doyle was targeted by Carson Wentz once and didn't have a catch — yet he still made a major impact on the game through his run blocking.
The 6-foot-6, 262 pound Doyle has always had an affinity for blocking — it dates back to third grade when his pee-wee coach, Jeff Whitsett, instilled a love for blocking in him. Two decades later, Doyle is blocking for some of the best running backs on the planet and playing a key role in the Colts leading the NFL in rushing yards per play (5.2) entering Week 15.
"Sometimes tight ends, we get swept under the rug when it comes to run blocking – oh, get in the way or get in front of a guy," Doyle said. "But (tight ends coach Klayton Adams) really challenged us to improve in that department, and I feel like we have."
Adams is in his first year as the Colts' tight ends coach after serving as the team's assistant offensive line coach in 2019 and 2020. Doyle said Adams' offensive line background has helped him hone in on some important details and techniques that, nearly a decade into his pro career, are still helping him grow and become a better player.
Doyle enters Saturday's Colts-Patriots tilt as the fourth-highest-graded run blocking tight end by Pro Football Focus, and his 79.6 PFF run blocking grade currently is the best of his career.
"Jack is so versatile," Reich said. "He's such a great player. He's dynamic in the run game. We can move him around. He's a playmaker in the run game. He's an excellent blocker.
"But the thing that I think Jack has made a career of is he continues to fool people in the pass game."
On a Colts offense that's built on spreading the ball around, Doyle's receiving numbers may seem modest in comparison to other tight ends around the NFL: 40 targets, 27 catches, 291 yards, three touchdowns. But the trust in Doyle – a two-time Pro Bowler – is very much there with Wentz, who in Week 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaned heavily on the veteran tight end (six catches, 81 yards, one touchdown) in a shootout with the defending Super Bowl champions.
"He is a true teammate, a true team player," Wentz said. "He's arguably the most selfless guy in that locker room. He doesn't care if he's run blocking, pass blocking, getting the ball or setting picks for the guys – whatever. He just wants to win.
"He just wants to win and help this team in any way, shape or form. Even if he's on the sideline, he's always there. I'd say everybody in that locker room has the utmost respect for who he is but also as a player. He's not just a selfless player, he's a good player. He's a great player and he's super versatile for us and we're able to use him in a variety of ways and he just continually shows up every single week."
Offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said Doyle's high football IQ means not only does Wentz trusts him, but the coaching staff, too. So whether it's calling for him to take on an All-Pro defensive end to block for Taylor or an All-Pro linebacker or safety to catch for Wentz, the Colts know the 31-year-old Doyle will get the job done.
For Taylor, that means: "You can trust and know that I can kind of shut that (side) off in my vision, I know that's taken care of, he's sealed, locked up. So it also limits your options as well to narrow it down, your choices of where to place the football."
And for Wentz and Reich: "He can play a lot of different roles in the pass game for us. He's a very good feel route on zone coverage, but he also has very good instincts versus man coverage. So, we value what Jack brings to this offense. … He's really been a center point to whatever success we've had. Jack has been a big part of that."e