To say it's been a rough year for the Indy passing game is an understatement.
Here's a quick look at the Indy pass catchers through four games.
Perhaps no player is as hurt by losing Manning as Reggie Wayne. Where as Manning's years of reps with Wayne can help to hide the fact that he's clearly lost a step, Painter/Collins (collectively now to be known as Cainter, as in, "Throw better!" "I cain'ter!") can't do the little things to make Wayne that extra step more effective. Wayne shouldn't be resigned after the season, which is sad considering all he has done for the franchise. He's one of the great Colts, hardest fighters, and best people ever to wear blue and white, but these are his final days in a horse shoe. Wayne's numbers won't be too bad, but the zeros on his pay check might be compromised.
Obviously, Garcon's numbers are skewed by one big game, but then again, Garcon's numbers are always weird. He has also done a good job drawing contact from defenders downfield. We all know his story: drops and jaw-droppers. He's unlikely to keep this pace, but if he finished with numbers close to his pace, the Colts ought to bring him back. Obviously, 20 yards a catch isn't sustainable, however.
Collie's numbers are gruesome. With Manning (and before his injuries) he was one of the most efficient receivers in football. Now, he's third from the bottom in DVOA. This is a drop of astounding proportions. Honestly, it hurts to look at this chart.
Clark's best days were likely behind him, and you can see he just may not be an explosive player any more. At his age, that's probably inevitable. What hurts Clark is the catch rate. The ball isn't quite there. There have been some balls that Cainter tried to fit into tight windows that were just slightly off. That subtle drop in accuracy is really affecting Clark's catch rate and DVOA.
I don't get bent out of shape about a quarterback's 'weapons'. QBs make the receivers much more than the reverse (Randy Moss excepted). The truth is that we have no idea if the Colts' wideouts are any good. Clark and Wayne are right at the age where their play should be dropping off hard. Collie is coming off a serious injury, and Pierre Garcon...God help you if you try and figure out Pierre Garcon.
The Indy pass catchers aren't getting any help at all from the QBs, and the result will likely be career worst seasons for most of them. Moving forward to 2012 (and yes, emotionally I already have...weeks ago), the Colts are going to have to find answers for the wide receiver questions. Stable QB play may or may not help the Colts win many games, but it should help them assess who stays and who goes for 2012.