Pittsburgh´s 93.7 (The Fan) radio station recently invited Bob Kravitz to their morning show.
Kravitz, a long time Indianapolis Colts beat writer currently working for the Athletic, gave them more than they expected.
His hosts probably expected some critique regarding Ebron´s drops and injuries.
But they might have been taken back by another Kravitz assertion.
Colts insider @bkravitz on Eric Ebron: "The good thing is he is a red zone threat, without any question. The bad thing is he drops a lot of balls. The other downside is the reason the Colts let him go is because they felt he quit on them this season."
— The Fan Morning Show (@FanMorningShow) March 24, 2020
Kravitz didn´t accuse Ebron of the Q-word directly.
He did, however, relay the thought that Eric Ebron shut down his 2019 season prematurely.
And Kravitz alluded that thought came from Colts general manager Chris Ballard.
Didn´t Surprise As Many Colts Fans
Chris Ballard looked like he made the signing of the season with Ebron in 2018.
Ebron was a free agent after being unceremoniously cut by the Detroit Lions.
His career was a bust until Andrew Luck put him back into the NFL spotlight.
Eric Ebron caught 13 TD’s on 110 targets in 2018 with Andrew Luck as his QB.
— Steelers Empire (@SteeIersEmpire) March 20, 2020
In his first season with the Colts, Ebron caught 66 passes for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns.
All of those were career highs, as were the 110 passes Luck threw Ebron´s way.
For good measure, Ebron rushed for a 14th touchdown.
It was a great season all around for Ebron who enjoyed playing for a playoff contender.
Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle are now TE2 types. Ebron regression was very likely with Luck. Now, guaranteed. Doyle was Brissett’s guy in 2017, but lots more mouths to feed now. I’m also fading Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell.
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) August 25, 2019
But some important factors changed in 2019.
For one, Jack Doyle was more available.
And Andrew Luck wasn´t.
Ebron saw his targets diminish in the Jacoby Brissett-led offense.
Marlon Mack, TY Hilton, Eric Ebron getting crushed in my projections/ranks with this news. I know it's possible Brissett is a lot better, but that's far from assured.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) August 25, 2019
Except for the Week 12 game versus Miami, Ebron saw 5 or fewer targets in each game.
He caught only 5 of 12 targets against the Dolphins.
But the biggest difference was touchdowns.
Ebron finished the 2019 season with only 3 touchdown catches.
But Did Ebron Quit?
According to Kravitz, Ebron said an ankle injury was bad enough to end his 2019 season.
The thing is, the Colts didn´t know he had an ankle issue
It sounds like the team was as surprised as their fans that Ebron landed on injured reserve before Week 12.
I like Eric Ebron a lot. Good dude. But everything about this situation indicates that his decision to go on injured reserve was a business decision. Frank Reich was very blunt on his conference call earlier today. Sounded pissed off: https://t.co/ftWbUFbPnw
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) November 26, 2019
As free agency approached, Kravitz asked Chris Ballard what the Colts´plans were for Ebron in 2020.
Ballard reported looked Kravitz straight in the eye and told him,
“Yeah. We´re done with him. We´re moving on.”
The quote sounds as curt and certain as the Lions´ statement when they released Ebron two years earlier.
Indianapolis just lost 2 out of 3 games, but still sat at 6-5 when Ebron played his last game.
He also caught 8 of 9 passes after his 5/12/56 performance against Miami.
But while TY Hilton and Marlon Mack fought to get back on the field, Ebron shut himself down.
Is your terrible ankle injury miraculously healed now that u have a new contract????
— Nathaniel Darling (@HoosierDarling3) March 20, 2020
And Chris Ballard did not think twice about letting him enter the free-agent market.
Other Signs of Problems
Kravitz went on to reveal some other locker room concerns about the Steelers’ newest tight end.
He told ´The Fan Morning Show´ audience Ebron was always talkative, providing a great interview target.
” But you take the good with the bad. Eric is Eric. He´s going to talk. (Ebron)´s going to say things he should not say. He´s going to do things he probably shouldn´t do on the football field.”
Then he added,
“I don´t know he´s one of those guys that when surrounded by a bunch of great leaders he´s suddenly going to fall in line. It is just a matter if Eric is ready to grow up and take advantage of his third opportunity in the league.”
It sounds like Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin could have another locker room challenge ahead of him.