Sometimes you come across athletes that are absolutely amazing. Sometimes you you find athletes who can produce amazing results because of their chemistry with their team. Which is it for T.Y. Hilton?
As long as he’s on the Indianapolis Colts he will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
In week 7 of the 2013 NFL season the Indianapolis Colts pulled out a significant win against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. It was an emotional game because Peyton was back “home.” It was emotional because the Colts pulled out a win against the top ranked team in the NFL. It was emotional because they lost their most significant offensive weapon for the rest of the season. On a short pass by Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne went down. He tore his ACL. His season was over and the Colts were left with the biggest void since the loss of Peyton Manning.
The numbers showed that Andrew Luck needed Reggie Wayne. At that time Luck’s numbers were much better with Wayne on the field. When Wayne was off the field Luck’s completion percentage was only 23.8 percent. He was the go to guy on first and third downs. He was also the most targeted in the redzone. Reggie Wayne was going to leave an empty space and it seemed like no one on the team could fill it.
Enter T.Y. Hilton
T.Y. Hilton is only in his second season as a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts. His first season was a good one. When you consider the fact that he wasn’t the top wide receiver on the team, his 861 yards and over 57 yards per game seemed very impressive.
He was still in the shadow of Reggie Wayne. A place where he felt comfortable. Hilton has spent his career learning from one of the greatest to ever play the position. In an interview once Hilton said, “If you want to be successful, just follow 87.”
Not bad words to live by, and he has lived by them. He began to work like Reggie. He implemented Reggie’s routine into his own. In the absence of Reggie on the field, Hilton has used Wayne to help him study film and prepare for games.
Andrew Luck has deflected any speculation of comparison with his predecessor. Hilton on the other hand has embraced it. Hilton broke 1,000 receiving yards this season. This is a milestone event in a wide recievers career. Hilton joked in the locker room after the game that he had done it faster then Wayne.
Although T.Y. Hilton is taking a lot out of the playbook of Reggie Wayne, he is also emerging into his own style of play. Hilton can be depended on to create distance and catch a deep ball. His speed and ability to catch make him great. Another thing that helps is his chemistry with a quarterback who is also great at his position. T.Y. Hilton has become the favorite target of Andrew Luck, especially when the Colts are in desperate need for a big play.
Vs. Kansas City
The AFC Wild Card round of the 2013 NFL playoffs gave T.Y. Hilton a chance to show Colts fans and the entire football world what he is made of. Hilton was the book ends on the Colts offensive performance. He scored the first touchdown of the game and finished by catching the game winner.
Hilton had the best game of his career so far. He scored twice. He had a career high 13 receptions. He also had a career high of 224 yards. He averaged over 17 yards each time he caught the ball. His previous career high receptions and yards had just been set the week before against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hilton also found himself on a historic list. He now is third on the list for most receiving yards in a playoff game. The person he had to beat for that spot was of course Reggie Wayne. Hilton beat Wayne’s record by a slim three yards.
There are several things that sets Hilton apart from other receivers. His athletic ability and work ethic are definitely two important qualities. Let’s not overlook his attitude and leadership. One of the things that impressed me the most was his postgame interview where he told reporters, “We’re a resilient team. We don’t quit, we don’t give up, we’re always gonna fight till the end… One thing you can’t measure with this group of guys is our heart”
Profound words from a young yet mature leader. If he does follow in the footsteps of Reggie Wayne he could find himself going farther than the footsteps lead. He has the ability and, thanks to Reggie Wayne, the leadership and maturity to surpass what Wayne has accomplished.
He’s not forgetting to give credit where credit is due. He has been very clear that he has grown and improved because of the leadership and coaching he has received. He told reporters after the game. “One thing [Reggie Wayne] told us before the game even started and at half time, ‘Hey, leave it out on the field.’ That’s what we all did and we’re all dead tired right now.”
T.Y. Hilton is a great weapon for Andrew Luck, a great protege of Reggie Wayne, a great leader in the locker room and hopefully another future Hall of Famer for the Indianapolis Colts.