Rest assured, this will not be the case for all Colts’ players that may be on the active roster bubble, but sometimes special circumstances allow me to write certain feel good stories. This analysis is on Colts’ backup tight end, Jack Doyle, and his ascent to the Colts’ roster. Doyle played his high school football at none other than Indianapolis’ Cathedral High School, where he was all-state. He played his collegiate football at Western Kentucky, where he was a three time captain and discernibly a leader. He ended up being undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft and was signed to the Tennessee Titans. After being one of the last active roster cuts, he was quickly scooped up by the Indianapolis Colts last September. For a team that shares the city with the Indiana Pacers and its own hometown hero, George Hill, Jack Doyle may very well be the Colts’, albeit less heralded, version.
For me, it’s great to write this story. It gives you that “warm and fuzzy” feeling to see a hometown kid work from the bottom to get to the top, displaying nothing but hard work, perseverance, and leadership along the way. What lies in store for 2014 for Jack Doyle? He fights an uphill battle to be a regular in the Colts’ offensive tight-end rotation behind former high draft picks like Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. However, I don’t think that’s why the Colts signed him in the first place. I think the Colts liked his smarts, his hustle, and most importantly, his ability to block.
In the NFL, much like in other professional sports, you don’t always have to the most talented player to stick on an active roster. For a player that may be on the fringe of making an active roster, sometimes you just have to find a niche or simply something you’re really good at. On a basketball bench, you may find that the 12-15th man is either a really good defender, shooter, or rebounder. In football, it’s often areas that deal with special teams, such as the ability to run ‘n tackle or blocking. Special teams is an area that is often overlooked, but ask any coach, and they’ll tell you it’s always important.
The Colts clearly value and are placing an increased importance on special teams. They recently re-signed special teams ace safety and former Notre Dame player, Sergio Brown, to a new contract even though he only played 28 defensive snaps all season. Jack Doyle is on the Colts’ 2014 books for an NFL modest $495K, according to Sportrac.com, making him readily affordable for the upcoming season.
The advanced statistics provided by our friends at ProFootballFocus.com indicate a muddled opinion of Doyle. He ranked 96th among 134 qualifiers at the tight end position in blocking. For a player that is sticking on the Colts’ roster most notably because of this specific ability, this must be an area that Doyle must continue to look to improve going forward.
In all fairness, a full training camp with the Colts’ players and coaches may help Doyle do wonders, as it’s not always easy to learn a new system, scheme, and teammates all right before the season starts. Another offseason of NFL training and conditioning will hopefully give Doyle the added strength and agility he’ll need to improve in the 2014 season. It remains to be seen what the future holds for Doyle, but it seems safe to assume that most of the Colts’ faithful will be actively rooting for this young man to succeed in blue.