Darrius Heyward Bey’s talent was never in question at the University of Maryland.
Why then, did he struggle so mightily with the Oakland Raiders? There are a few possible reasons for this, and the Indianapolis Colts hope he can turn it around. His hands haven’t been an issue, but his ability to consistently run routes has.
After Oakland drafted him seventh overall in 2009, many pundits felt it was a reach. Then again, if it’s one thing former Raiders owner Al Davis was known for, it was that he was always willing to make a pick that left many scratching their heads.
The first reason Heyward-Bey may have struggled is the insane amount of offensive coordinators’ he went through while in Oakland. There was Al Saunders, Hue Jackson, Gregg Knapp and Greg Olson. One could argue that he was never able to get truly comfortable in any facet of the offense. Another reason, and perhaps the biggest, was the number and quality of the quarterbacks he had throwing to him. As Bey puts it, there was: “Jamarcus (Russell). Charlie Frye, Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, Carson Palmer, and Terrelle Pryor for one game. ’’ With that many quarterbacks, no receiver in the league could get acclimated, let alone a youngster such as Bey. He also went through three head coaches in Tom Cable, the aforementioned Jackson and Doug Allen.
His drop rate is and was a concern. (keep in mind, anything above ten percent is considered questionable) His rookie season, he dropped an astonishing 35.7 percent of the passes thrown in his direction. In year two, that decreased to 21.6 percent. In his third year, he had 64 catches and a drop rate of 8.6 percent. Last year, that number increased back to 12.6 percent.
Here’s why there should be optimism for the Colts. He has speed that cannot be taught. He ran a 4.3 second forty yard dash in college. Andrew Luck is (by far) the best quarterback he’s ever had. Lastly, his new offensive coordinator, Pep Hamilton should bring a pass-happy offense that can make any receiver comfortable.
Asked why he signed with Indianapolis, Heyward-Bey said:
“I really don’t see it that way, I’m looking at this as a chance to get to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl with a really good team and a very good quarterback. I’m very team oriented. I want to make plays that help this team win.’’
One thing is for certain, both the Colts and Heyward-Bey himself expect a complete turnaround from his days in silver and black.