Marques Colston has plenty of magic left in the tank

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Following the conclusion of the 2014 season, many New Orleans Saints player futures were in doubt. Perhaps no greater mystery existed other than wide receiver Marques Colston. In the season finale, which many believed was the final curtain call for the Hofstra product, Colston went out in ‘Quiet Storm’ like fashion. He’d catch the game winning touchdown with under two minutes to go, and was awarded the game ball in the 23-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Emotions filled the locker room, and many of the post game questions centered around Colston and his immediate future. Quarterback Drew Brees, Colston’s long-term partner in crime, had this to say following the victory:

"“You could not ask for a better teammate, a better person, a better guy to come to work with every day. He’s done it for nine years the exact same way. I’m tellin’ ya, there’s not a more consistent player or person. One of the greatest teammates I’ve ever had the chance to play with.“And I know we’ve got some more time together, but I think you just cherish each and every moment.”"

Colston, who will turn 32 on June 5, is entering his tenth professional season. He’s the franchise leader in nearly all receiving categories for the New Orleans Saints. Many might be quick to state that Colston had a very down year. However, let’s look at some stats to really understand the season Colston had.

For starters, Pro Football Focus has Colston as the 31st overall rated receiver in regards to Drew Brees’ quarterback rating when he was thrown the ball. Colston’s 2014 campaign saw him targeted 96 times on the year, hauling in 59 receptions for 902 yards and five touchdowns. The rating of 92.4 was higher than receivers Brandon Marshall (Bears), Michael Crabtree (49ers), Michael Floyd (Cardinals), and A.J. Green (Bengals), to name a few.

Marques Colston finished just outside the top 10 among receivers with eight total drops. It tied him with six other wideouts, most notably Julio Jones (Falcons), Jordy Nelson (Packers), and Randall Cobb (Packers). However, Colston’s drop percentage of 11.94 was the seventh highest among all receivers last season.

Year over year, Colston’s production in terms of overall statistics may have declined some.

2014: 59 receptions, 902 yards, 5 TD

2013: 75 receptions 943 yards, 5 TD

2012: 83 receptions, 1,154 yards, 10 TD

2011: 80 receptions, 1,143 yards, 8 TD

2010: 84 receptions, 1,023 yards, 7 TD

2009: 70 receptions, 1,074 yards, 9 TD

Could that be due to Jimmy Graham’s emergence, and newcomer Brandin Cooks? Here’s how the targets have looked between Graham and Colston, and Cooks factored in for last season:

Marques Colston saw the fewest targets of his career since 2008. Even though Colston missed five games due to injury, he was still targeted 88 times during the 2008 season. He saw triple digits in every other year aside 2014. As per Pro Football Focus, Colston appeared in 889 snaps out of 1,158 possible last season. He finished fourth highest on the team, and was in on 77 percent of the Saints offensive snaps.

Colston summed up last season, blaming himself personally for some of the struggles.

"“(The season was) definitely not according to plan on all accounts,” Colston said. “Personally, it’s been a disappointing year, and then obviously we haven’t had the success as a team that we were hoping to have. But you have years like this. It’s a tough pillow to swallow.”"

When you go back and look at some of the catches Colston had, especially touchdown receptions, you have to think to yourself, “There’s no other player on the Saints roster that could have made that catch.” If you don’t believe me, just watch some of these beauties.

So, after some time off, a revised contract which will see him in black and gold for the next two couple of seasons, how much will Marques Colston be involved in 2015?

The Saints offense has two players set in stone on their wide receiving corps: Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston. Outside of that, there’s much uncertainty. You could argue that Joe Morgan, who was kicked off the team last year due to his conduct, has a very short leash on him returning to the team. You could also say that Nick Toon‘s hourglass is down to mere grains of sand. Young guns Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones figure to see increased action, and there’s even more younger players that have a legitimate shot to make the final roster.

With that being said, younger and more inexperienced players on the roster means that Colston will continue to see his fair share of reps. He might not necessarily tally the high amount of targets from his most productive years, but is sure to see Drew Brees look for him more than a few times.

When it’s all said and done, Marques Colston is still the bread and butter of the New Orleans Saints offense. Many faces have come and gone throughout the years, but Colston has been one constant and staple in the offense. Will his production be off the charts? Probably not. Will he add value to the Saints offense? Absolutely, and to imagine the offensive attack without him is a bit unsettling. Drew Brees ultimately trusts Colston, much like quarterback-wide receiver combos over the years like Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne, Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, Kurt Warner and Torry Holt, and Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates.

Marques Colston has some magic left in his tank, and we should see it more times than not in 2015.

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