Donnie Avery, the Wildcat, and Pep Hamilton

Look, I know it's only February. I know that coachspeak in the offseason means little. 

That being said, Pep Hamilton's first press conference had a few hot button issues that left a sour taste in my mouth. Not everything was bad, quite to the contrary, but these were a couple things I wanted to look in-depth at. 

The first, and most important topic, was the continuous mentions of Donnie Avery. Throughout the press conference, Hamilton described Avery as a weapon and referred to him as somebody who would feature in to the Colts' 2013 plans. It's no secret that Grigson like's Avery, specifically his speed and his deep threat ability. 

After holding back the offense for much of the 2012 season, it seemed all but certain that Avery would be gone in 2013. Now, it's looking more and more likely like he'll be back in Indianapolis. 

I feel like I shouldn't have to list the multiple reasons why Avery shouldn't be allowed back in the Colts' facilities next year, but I will anyway. 

No matter which metric you choose to use, Avery doesn't come out looking good. 

The easiest place to start is his hands. I mentioned this last offseason, but Avery has always struggled with drops. For the last four years, he's never had a drop rate less than 11% (Average this year was about 9%), and this past season he ranked 79th in the league with a drop rate of 16.67%. This wouldn't be as big of a deal if he made the most of his big play ability, but Avery never did. 

Of 10 catchable balls Avery was thrown on deep passes, he dropped four of them, the second highest total in the league and the worst drop rate. When he did manage to catch the ball, deep or not, Avery rarely turned the play into something more, averaging just 3.5 yards after the catch per reception (74th in the league and worst among the Colts' top four receivers). On the flip side, you have a guy like Hilton, who caught 10 of his 11 catchable deep passes, and averaged 7.7 YAC, 5th best in the league. 

Add it all up, and you get a wide receiver, in Avery, who was 80th in DVOA and 100th in PFF's grades, one of the worst wide receivers in football. 

Like Nate Dunlevy has said multiple times this offseason, if the Colts improve on their #2 receiver, the efficiency of the offense should improve dramatically in 2013. If Avery is left there, he's going to continue to hold the offense back. It should still improve in 2013 either way, but the difference between Avery and even an average starter is far too great to ignore. 

The other thing that warrants attention is Hamilton's mention of the Colts running sets such as the pistol, wildcat, and read-option in 2013 to keep opposing defenses off balance. 

How much of this is real and how much is simply putting questions in the back of defensive coordinator's mind is a valid question, but if Hamilton is being at all serious, it is a concern. 

When you have a quarterback like Andrew Luck, someone who you want to see develop into an elite quarterback, the Wildcat and read-option have no place in the playbook. Keep the ball in your best decision-maker's hands, don't expose him to more hits than he has to take, and let him work his magic. Luck's frame is big, which helps against taking hits, but that doesn't mean that we should be exposing him to more hits than he has to take. The offensive line is scary enough already, and Luck is the franchise's future. 

Not that it can't be effective on a very limited basis, but the offense should take advantage of Luck's prowess as a passer, especially considering the sub-par talent in running backs and blocking the Colts' currently possess. 

So, to be clear, nobody is calling for Hamilton's firing, or anything like that. And until any of this coachspeack turns into actions, it's not all that concerning. 

But it's something to keep an eye out for. 

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.

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