Colts Insider Questions Lack of Touches for Offensive Weapon

Frank Reich

Getty An Indianapolis Colts insider questioned why head coach Frank Reich didn't get running back Nyheim Hines more touches in the loss against the Tennessee Titans.

Within the last year, the most popular complaint after losses from the Indianapolis Colts has been not enough touches for All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor.

In the 24-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans during Week 4, though, Taylor struggled despite receiving a team-high 21 touches. No other Colts player touched the ball more than 6 times.

So after the Colts lost to the Titans for the fifth time in the last six meetings, including fourth straight occasion, to fall to 1-2-1 this season, Colts beat writer Nate Atkins of The Indianapolis Star questioned why backup running back Nyheim Hines wasn’t more involved.

“Nyheim Hines was hard to spot today,” Atkins wrote. “He seemed to be on the field plenty, in two-running back sets with Taylor, but he was more of a decoy as the Colts worked through every target except him. He finished with just two targets and two receptions for 3 yards.

“Hines’ usage has been puzzling this season, as he’s one of the few established options in an offense that doesn’t have enough working.”

In addition to 2 catches, Hines had 1 carry for zero yards.

Hines Not Receiving Opportunity to Live up to Preseason Hype

Several of the Indianapolis’ offensive weapons received quite a bit of hype over the summer. Running back Nyheim Hines was among those players.

On one hand, that was surprising given that Taylor came into 2022 as the reigning NFL leading rusher in just his third season. But Colts general manager Chris Ballard said he expected Hines to be much more involved in the team’s passing offense than last season.

“Nyheim [Hines], we need to use more,” Ballard told The Athletic’s Zak Keefer at the NFL’s Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, FL. “Frank [Reich] knows that. I think they will. They’re going to play him more in the slot. And if you look at the year under Philip [Rivers], I think he caught 60-something balls.

“He needs to be a big part of the offense because he’s a valuable part of the organization, and he’s a weapon.”

Hines is on pace to eclipse the 60-catch mark for the third time in his career. He is second on the team with 17 receptions through 4 weeks, and he’s on track for a career high in catches.

But Hines hasn’t been able to turn those touches into big plays. He has averaged 3.7 yards per catch the last 2 weeks combined. After Week 4, his yards per catch average dropped to 6.6.

Getting Hines more touches should be a priority for the Colts going forward, but the offense also needs to find a way to get their backup running back more touches in space.

Why Hines is Struggling to Find Room?

Of course, getting Hines the ball more in space is easier said than done.

In addition to calling for Hines to get more touches, Atkins explained why he thinks the Colts offense has struggled to involve the 25-year-old running back more often.

“But defenses also know that [Hines is one of the few established options in the Colts passing game], and the Titans were using defensive backs on him and doubling him in certain moments,” Atkins wrote. “That opened up opportunities for secondary players and they delivered today.”

Tight end Mo Alie-Cox led the Colts with 85 receiving yards and scored 2 touchdowns on October 2. Rookie receiver Alec Pierce also had 80 receiving yards while fellow tight end Kylen Granson had 4 catches for 62 yards. Wide receiver Parris Campbell had his best game of the early season too with 4 receptions and 43 receiving yards.

With those players performing well in Week 4, defenses shouldn’t be able to pigeonhole on only stopping Hines and Michael Pittman Jr. in the Colts passing game.

Hopefully for Indianapolis, that means more opportunities for Hines the rest of the season.

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