This time last year, the Colts were sitting at 2-14, no Peyton Manning, and an impending free agency with which the Colts had to solve a number of problems, particulary at quarterback. And they solved that with the No. 1 overall pick in the form of quarterback Andrew Luck.
But the next step was to re-tool a receiving corps that was non-existent in 2011. And many pass over exactly what this receiving corps accomplished with Luck in 2012, and what this group consisted of.
The biggest surprise of this group was veteran Reggie Wayne, but not because of his production (1,355 receiving yards and five touchdowns), but because of the fact that he stuck around Indy despite the big regime changes, and despite the widely held rumors that he would follow former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning to whatever team he signed with in free agency. The 11-year veteran always gets the biggest label in this receiving corps, but this group was more than this future NFL Hall of Famer.
This group got a surprising dish of production from third-round pick T.Y. Hilton, who's ability to stretch the field helped open up the Colts offense. He finished the regular season second on the team with 861 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Rookie tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen also allowed the Colts to continue their preferred system of two tight end sets, and gave Luck more opportunities with their size and receiving ability. Allen finished his rookie campaign with 451 receiving yards and three touchdowns while being named to ESPN Mel Kiper's All-Rookie team while leading all rookie tight ends in receptions and yards. Fleener finished the regular season with 281 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
And in free agency, the Colts signed Donnie Avery, formerly of the St. Louis Rams, who is yet another field stretcher and provides Luck with another No.2/No. 3 option to complement with Hilton. With the production of other receivers in this offense, it allowed the Colts to replace Pierre Garcon, who signed with the Washington Redskins in the off-season after rejecting the Colts' five year offer and continue Luck's development as an NFL quarterback. A great balance of youth and veteran leadership has allowed this Colts' offense to help guide them into the playoffs, and guide one of the biggest turnarounds in NFL history.
And the Colts are looking to make even more history in the playoffs and the near future, which looks exceptionally bright with young talents in tight ends Fleener and Allen, young receiver Hilton, and of course, quarterback Andrew Luck.