I think being 'unimportant' and not being HOF caliber are two different things. Hilton has been in the league for 8 years. He has never had more than 100 receptions in a season. Marvin did it 4 times in his first 7 years with 94 receptions in his 8th year (TY's got 2 seasons with 82 catches, 1 with 91 and only one other with over 70 so 4 over 70 total in his first 8). Marv led the league in receptions and receiving yards 2x during his first 8 years and had 5 seasons with over 10 TDs. TY has never had a season with more than 7 TDs. Marv had his year with 143 receptions when he was double or triple teamed every game. TY can be taken out of games effectively by being double teamed. If you go past the first 8, Marv had a stretch where he had >1,000 yards and 10+ TDs for 8 straight years (the best streak in NFL history). I highly doubt TY's going to pull that task off considering he's never had a single season with >7 TDs.
Reggie had 5 of his first 8 seasons w/ >70 catches, 4 of them >80 catches and 1 with 100 catches. He then had 3 more 100+ reception seasons later in his career. Reggie had 10+ TDs twice in his first 8 years compared to 0 for TY. All Marv, Reggie and TY had 5 seasons w/ >1,000 yards in their first 8 seasons.
TY's body also doesn't seem to be holding up all that well. He has had injuries the past couple years which obviously impacted his play. At his current pace, he'd likely need to last 15 seasons to make it to 1,000 receptions, which is pretty much the minimum to be considered for the HOF at the WR position unless you're someone who got hurt early and completely impacted the game (e.g., Megatron).
Don't get me wrong, I like TY a lot. He's a special player when he's healthy. But I highly doubt he's a HOFer, especially if the QB play doesn't improve around here.
I think TY is versatile enough to move inside or outside. He's shown he can play outside, mainly because his speed. But yes, look at the year Marv had 143 receptions. He was double or triple teamed every single game. Teams knew what was coming and they couldn't stop him. While I don't think TY's a bad route runner, Marv by many accounts was the best route runner in the game when he played (Peanut Tillman, Shawn Springs, Champ Bailey are all on record saying this, and I think a few other top-tier CBs said the same thing).
Again, I like TY a lot. However, without weapons around him, he can be taken out of games regardless of who his QB is. Marvin was very rarely taken out of games (unless you consider the Pats game in which Ty Law was basically tackling Marvin at the line of scrimmage, a game which changed the NFL history since Polian got the rules changed that offseason to make it a lot easier on WRs than it was then).
In 2018, teams definitely were avoiding him. In 2019, he got targeted slightly more, but for the most part I don't think he's a guy that teams are 'picking on.' I thought he played more physically last year, and think he can be a very good (at worst he's slightly above middle of the pack, at best potentially top 5 FS in the NFL). We need to address other issues on this team and everyone's play should improve. IMO, Hooker's nowhere near one of our biggest problems on the team and not one we need to target fixing anytime in the near future.
Kenny Moore is a very good slot CB, but I really don't think he's that great on the outside. I have a hard time ranking him our 2nd best D player.
I'd say after Leonard, it'd go something like Houston, Walker and then Moore. I think we have a couple other guys that'll also surpass Moore next year with more time to develop (Okereke, Ya-Sin, Turay if healthy are three that come to mind).
If we had a higher scoring offense and we improved our DL, it'd really help our DBs. I always say Mathis and Freeney, if they get into the HOF, should thank Peyton for allowing them to truly be pass rush specialists. Neither of them were very good against the run, Freeney was actually fairly awful against the run... but our O scored so much back then, we could make other team's O one-dimensional and just allow Freeney and Mathis to pin their ears back. If our O wasn't so good back then, I have a hard time believing Freeney would have had as many sacks as he had... he had one job and that was to get the QB because we rarely had to worry about being run on. Either way, even if our O doesn't significantly improve, we need to improve the DL and be able to get much more consistent pressure on the other QB.
Well, there were rumors that Grigs would go over Pagano's head with decisions. It sounds like they are mostly true. For example, Grigs made the T-Richardson trade. The guy was awful, but rumors were that Pagano wanted to bench him but Grigson wouldn't let him.
I don't know if you follow Pat McAfee's show, but he bashes Grigson still to this day. He said the working environment around that guy was just terrible. Imagine being a head coach and being told by your GM, you can't bench so-and-so for his performance because it'd hurt the GM's ego. I believe that's why Pagano was allowed to stay a year after Grigs, because Irsay realized how bad a choice he made hiring Grigs and wanted to see what Pags could do without Grigson calling his shots.
I agree that we did not have much depth. We also had several positions that just had low quality players because of Grigson. Grigson overspent on a lot of FAs like Landry, RJF, Walden (at least for his first couple years), etc. Then he went out and tried to be a hero by signing guys like Adongo and letting them have roster spots.
However, I think a big part of the reason Ballard has cleaned house has to do with scheme fits. We have a way different scheme in all 3 phases of the game with the new regime. There are several guys who have left and have been pretty good on other teams: (1) Frank Gore -- doesn't really count since he's a lock to be 1st ballot HOF, (2) Phillip Dorsett is much better in NE than he ever was in Indy, (3) Austin Blythe is the starting RG for St. Louis, (4) Jonnathan Harrison I believe started for the Jets last year, (5) Denzell Good is pretty good for OAK, (6) Henry Anderson is all right for NYJ, (7) Hassan Ridgeway was having a decent year in Philly before he got hurt..... so it's not like all Pagano had was garbage. He certainly didn't have a good OL or good depth across the board, though, which I think is largely Grigson's fault.
Pagano always took the blame for his players. That is why every player that played for him loved the guy. He has never made excuses or threw one of his players under the bus.
Like I said- His game adjustments were hampered by the lack of talent.
What you are failing to realise is that Pagano was a first time head coach when he joined the Colts. He still didn't have a losing record and was not even close to being as bad as most think in this forum. Just because the fans want a scrape goat does not mean he deserved being one.