Can Josh Downs Save the Starving Colts Receiving Corps?

Indianapolis Colts Josh Downs impact this year
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more touching videos to come out of the draft last April was Josh Downs fielding the call that would bring him to the show. Downs stood, in the middle of the night, outside his family home. The night was pitch black with the exception of the spotlight from the camera he was being filmed by. His family started shouting and cheering as Josh Downs stood, mentally preparing to step into a new kind of spotlight, because on the other end of the line was Chris Ballard telling him that he was now an Indianapolis Colt. 

The Dawn of Hope

The Colts receiving corps has been pretty bad for a long time. For way too long we had to look toward an aging TY Hilton as our number one. The first semblance of change came when Michael Pittman was drafted out of USC in 2020. This gave us a big body on the outside that we could look forward to calling our new number one.

Ballard would add another piece in 2022 to the other side of the field. We got our second, big-bodied, outside receiver in Alec Pierce out of Cincinnati. But we were still missing a slot receiver to really round things out. You know things are bleak when you start considering lining up Nyhiem Hines in the slot because there simply isn’t anyone else. So enter…Josh Downs.

Many people around the league seem to think the Colts have found their receiving corps of the future. All young, high draft picks. The excitement has been heavy around all three of these receivers. But something feels different about the reaction to Downs. It’s not so much loud excitement as it was with Pittman, but more of a quiet anticipation. A silent understanding that Downs is going to be a game-changer for us.  

What to Anticipate

The kid is a competitor. He said so himself during his first phone conversation with his new coach Shane Steichen. If you watch his tape, you would know that Downs isn’t lying when he says that either.

He loves running that shallow crossing route into the defense.

He thrives on cutting up the seam and challenging the single high safety.

He’s a threat all over the field and is already drawing Randall Cobb comparisons.

We couldn’t ask for a better fit in Indy as Downs will relish the opportunity to play in the slot position that we have been so starved for the past several years. Another huge plus is Downs does not need long-developing routes to get open, which can be extremely helpful if our offensive line remains just as horrible as it was last year.  

If Downs meets expectations this Colts offense can go from the snoozefest of yesteryear to a psychedelic, Pink Floyd, laser light show. I can see defenses squirming as Shane Steichen uses Pierce and Pittman to pull linebackers and safeties up the field, just to have Anthony Richardson hit a shallow crossing Downs in stride for a 20-yard gain.

If Pittman can rebound and Pierce can build on last season, the Colts will have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to offensive weapons. There’s a long list of things to look forward to and be optimistic about when it comes to this next Colts season and Josh Downs has to be near the top of that list for every Colts fan. 

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