Thursday, October 31, 2013
OC Hamilton has hands full minus Wayne
By Mike Wells
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano gave his team the entire bye week off as a reward for their strong start.
The same couldn't be said for offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. He spent the week meeting with other assistant coaches discussing what adjustments needed to be made since Mr. Reliable -- receiver Reggie Wayne -- is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
"Moving forward, we know it's the 'Next Man Up,'" Hamilton said. "[Darrius Heyward-Bey], T.Y. [Hilton] and some of the younger guys who may get an opportunity to go in there and make plays for us in the passing game. Somebody will have to step up and make plays."
It's understandable that Hamilton decided against a week of rest and relaxation. He's now got the toughest job on staff outside of Pagano.
Hamilton took the Colts' coordinator job with the vision of having one of the best offenses in the league. Andrew Luck at quarterback. Wayne, Heyward-Bey and Hilton at receiver. Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener at tight end. Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw at running back.
Wayne, Allen, Ballard, Bradshaw and guard Donald Thomas are out for the season with injuries.
"It's more of a challenge, but there are no excuses," Hamilton said. "We have to find ways to get first downs and get touchdowns and that's my job, and with the support of the rest of the coaches, we're going to do just that. That's part of the National Football League, the attrition it's real and it's still tough losing those guys."
The Colts didn't lose just any player. Wayne, Luck and linebacker Robert Mathis are Indianapolis' most valuable players. Wayne has 101 catches for first downs and 40 third-down receptions. Luck targeted him 24 times in the red zone the past two seasons.
"It was unfortunate," Hamilton said. "It was tough to say the least. Andrew had a tremendous amount of trust in Reggie and knowing Reggie would get to the spot and ultimately Reggie would make the play."
It's still uncertain who the third receiver will be after Heyward-Bey, who was limited in practice Thursday because of a hamstring, and Hilton, but you can expect the Colts to move players around to try to create matchups in their favor.
The task won't be easy Sunday because the Houston Texans have the best defense in the league, giving up only 267.7 total yards a game.
The area the Colts can potentially exploit the Texans is on the ground. Houston is allowing 122.1 yards a game, which is 28th in the league. The Colts are ninth in the league in rushing yards at 129.3 a game despite not having an active player averaging more than 45.6 yards a game.
It's been talked about on a weekly basis now, but having running back Trent Richardson find his rhythm will help ease some of the burden on Luck and the receivers. ESPN's Jeff Chadiha wrote a story Thursday about how the Colts will regret making the trade for Richardson. He's averaging 3.0 yards a carry and his long is 16 yards in five games with the Colts.
"I have to do a better job of finding ways to get Trent out in space," Hamilton said. "I have to do a better job coming up with schemes that not only give our offensive line a chance to be successful, but of course create holes for Trent and create schemes that compliment his wealth of talent. That's one of the things that we spent time as an offensive staff looking at during the bye week."