Throughout his three-season tenure in the NFL, Indianapolis Colts' standout receiver, Michael Pittman, has predominantly shared the field with seasoned quarterbacks. Now, as the Colts welcome rookie Anthony Richardson, Pittman is set to be his guiding star.
Pittman's initiation into the NFL saw him catching spirals from the legendary 39-year-old Philip Rivers. Subsequently, 2021 was marked by his collaboration with Carson Wentz. The last season had him mainly working with 37-year-old Matt Ryan, although Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger occasionally pitched in.
Pittman Embraces Mentorship Role
The dawn of 2023 witnesses Pittman's fresh challenge: mentoring first-round pick Richardson as he navigates the complexities of the NFL. The veteran receiver's primary mission? Assure the young quarterback of his reliability on the field.
"I want him to trust that if he throws in my direction, either I catch it or no one does," expressed Pittman in an interview on the Colts' official website. He believes this unwavering trust will embolden Richardson to take calculated risks with 50/50 balls.
Pittman, lauded for his precise route-running, remains one of the NFL's unsung heroes. Boasting 187 receptions since 2021, he ranks 10th league-wide. Furthermore, a staggering 25.9% of the Colts' receptions over the past couple of years are attributed to him, placing him seventh in the league.
While Pittman acknowledges that he doesn't run flawless routes all the time, he's committed to making things flow smoothly for Richardson. He emphasizes the significance of synchronicity, saying, "Sometimes I have to compensate for him and vice-versa." With Richardson, an undeniably talented yet inexperienced QB, leading the Colts, many analysts predict a moderate season for Pittman.
Yet, under the RPO scheme with Shane Steichen possibly channeling passes to his top receiver, Pittman's stellar ability to command the line of scrimmage could be a game-changer. Pittman, understanding the burdens of quarterbacking, aims to alleviate pressures off the rookie.
"Quarterbacking is perhaps the toughest role in sports," he opined. "For Richardson, with his youth, I aim to simplify things. I'm geared to shoulder added responsibility if that aids him." As the Colts prepare to square off against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the season opener, fans and critics alike are keen to discern the synergy between Pittman and Richardson in 2023.