Although the Indianapolis Colts were victorious in a big way on Sunday, they lost rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. for at least four weeks.
#Colts WR Michael Pittman had compartment leg syndrome in his calf, source said, and he had surgery last night. It went well. He should be back the game after their bye. So, likely Week 8.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 28, 2020
With Pittman out for at least the next three games, the Indianapolis offense is continuing to have trouble staying healthy.
First, it was starting running back Marlon Mack who tore his Achilles in Week 1.
Then, it was Parris Campbell who sprained his MCL and PCL in Week 2.
If the Colts keep their current pace of injuries, then they will be having difficulty producing on offense.
On Sunday, Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett combined to target Pittman four times, and he caught three balls for 26 yards, including a 13-yard completion.
The only player to have more receptions than Pittman on Sunday was running back Nyheim Hines.
After playing 92 percent of offensive snaps in Week 2, Pittman played 58 percent of snaps in Week 3.
The injury appeared to have happened during the first half of Sunday’s blowout of the New York Jets.
How was Pittman Playing Before He Suffered the Injury?
In Week 1, Pittman played just 53 percent of snaps, the lowest of any of the first three weeks for him.
He had just two receptions for 10 yards in a game that Rivers attempted 46 passes.
Rivers involved Pittman in Week 2 and Week 3.
However, the compartment leg syndrome will slow down the synergy between the two.
Heading into the season, Pittman had the chance to be a strong deep threat for the Colts.
With the 2019 Los Angeles Chargers, Rivers helped No. 2 receiver Mike Williams have a career year.
Williams had 49 receptions for an impressive 1,001 receiving yards.
In addition, the Chargers fourth-year receiver was able to do something very familiar to Pittman.
In 2019, Williams’ 20.4 yards per reception led the NFL.
In 2018, it was Pittman who led the Pac-12 conference with 18.5 yards per reception.
If Pittman can return by the middle of the 2020 season, he has the chance to put up a 500-yard rookie season.
How Does the Loss of Pittman Affect the Indianapolis Offense?
Even without Mack and Campbell, the Colts scored 36 points and had 353 total yards on Sunday.
Rivers, who has the 22nd-best receivers according to PFF, targeted 10 different receivers and connected with eight of them.
Third-year tight end Mo Alie-Cox is blossoming at 27 years old.
He had five catches for 111 yards and had the longest catch of the game against the Jets.
In addition to his one-yard touchdown catch, Alie-Cox brought in a 45-yard grab as well.
In terms of Rivers’ performance, he has been a great early-down quarterback early in 2020:
Philip Rivers: 2nd-highest PFF grade on 1st & 2nd downs 🔥
Colts Offense: 6th-highest run play % on 1st & 2nd downs 🥶 pic.twitter.com/pgBZVO4OHn
— PFF IND Colts (@PFF_Colts) September 28, 2020
Rivers and Jonathan Taylor appear to be working very well together.
Taylor already has nine receptions and 79 yards to go along with 182 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
With Pittman out, Hines should contribute even more in the passing game.
He has 27 touches, including 13 receptions, for 138 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns this season.
Rivers enjoys involving his running backs as much as possible.
Therefore, he and Frank Reich should be able to find new ways to reinvent the offense.
Even Jordan Wilkins has 18 rushing attempts for 79 yards.
Although the running backs can be important on offense, they cannot stretch the field.
Maybe Pittman can contribute if he can return later in the season.
Pittman had a tremendous senior year at USC, as he led his conference in receptions and receiving yards.
If he can be similar to how Mike Williams was for Rivers last year, then the Colts could make some noise in the playoffs.