Colts Veteran Projected to be ‘Surprising Star’ in 2022

Frank Reich

Getty Bleacher Report's Alex Ballentine predicts that head coach Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts will see one of their veterans become a surprise star during the 2022 season.

The Indianapolis Colts could use a breakout season from one of their young wide receivers. NFL writer Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report, though, sees one of Indianapolis’ tight ends becoming a surprising star during 2022.

In an article naming one surprising star for all 32 NFL teams, Ballentine predicted veteran tight end Mo Alie-Cox to shine for the Colts.

“With only Jack Doyle to compete against for tight end targets, he had just 24 catches for 316 yards and four touchdowns last season,” wrote Ballentine.

“That might look bad on first glance, but that was with Carson Wentz at quarterback. According to PlayerProfiler, Alie-Cox was 27th in catchable targets and target quality rate among all tight ends.”

Alie-Cox posted career highs with 4 touchdowns and 45 targets last season, but he recorded career bests with 31 receptions and 394 receiving yards in 2020. Set to turn 29 on September 19, the fifth-year tight end could be on the verge of a true breakout season this fall.

Alie-Cox in Line for an Increase in Targets

During his first four seasons, Alie-Cox largely split snaps and targets with fellow tight end Jack Doyle. Last year, Alie-Cox played a career-high 609 snaps, but that was still only 54.72% of Indianapolis’ offensive snaps in 2021 and second among Colts tight ends.

Doyle played 643 snaps (57.77% of Indianapolis’ offensive snaps), which led all Indianapolis tight ends. The last time Doyle didn’t lead Colts tight ends in snaps was 2018.

But Doyle announced his retirement on March 7. The only tight ends the Colts added to replace him were through the draft with Jelani Woods and Drew Ogletree. The Colts also have second-year tight end Kylen Granson.

Unfortunately, Ogletree tore his right ACL during practice on August 17 and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

The lack of veteran tight end experience should give Alie-Cox a real chance of carving out a large role and receiving many targets in the Colts passing game this fall.

The fact Indianapolis has a better quarterback and doesn’t possess a proven No. 2 receiver also improvements the likelihood Alie-Cox will break out.

“The target distribution after Michael Pittman Jr. is a bit of a mystery right now,” Ballentine wrote. “Alie-Cox is primed to play a much larger role with a better quarterback this season.”

Advantages for Tight Ends With Matt Ryan

Speaking of that quarterback, the arrival of Ryan should be a big advantage to Alie-Cox as well this season.

While tight end Zach Ertz did lead the Philadelphia Eagles in receiving three times with Carson Wentz as his starting quarterback, other than that, Wentz hasn’t funneled a ton of passes to tight ends in the NFL.

The same can’t really be said about Ryan during his career.

“Matt Ryan is now the quarterback and has a history of getting his tight ends involved,” Ballentine wrote. “He had Kyle Pitts last season, so that’s not a great comparison, but even with Hayden Hurst in 2020, Ryan fed him 88 targets, which led to a career-high 56 catches for 571 yards and six touchdowns.”

Before Hurst, Ryan threw plenty of passes to Austin Hooper. Prior to his arrival in 2016, one of Ryan’s favorite targets was Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Even behind a better offensive line than what he had with the Atlanta Falcons, Ryan will likely be looking to deliver the ball quickly this season. If Alie-Cox proves to be a reliable target, he should see plenty of opportunities for success during 2022.

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