Colts Defense; Best it’s Ever Been?
This season the Indianapolis Colts defense has lost key playes to injury and suspension; those being Laron Landry (suspended PED use), Robert Mathis (torn Achilles) and also Arthur Jones (ankle sprain, no timetable). That has not stopped the Indianapolis defense from succeeding. Today ill be breaking down the Colts defense and how its improved so drastically in the Andrew Luck and Ryan Grigson era.
The Colts may not be first in the league in yards allowed; but they do lead in one of the most important statistics; 3rd down stops. They come in at number one, allowing a dismal 19 3rd down conversions; that’s first in the league by 3. The Colts defense has performed time and again when needed most. Yes they have allowed the 2034 yards on the year which is 19th in the league; but that doesn’t matter when you make so many stops on 3rd down. The pass rush has also stepped up with 17 sacks on the season (that’s 6th in the NFL). Every player on the defense has played a part in this success. In this article ill be breaking down the performance of each part of the defense, and also how they can improve.
One of the Colts most veteran parts of the team is the defensive line; Cory Redding, Arthur Jones, Josh Chapman and Ricky Jean-Francois. Cory Redding is the leader of the group, having the most experience and always giving a consistent and quality performance. Redding this season hasn’t had the greatest stats with 11 tackles and 2 sacks, but defensive ends job isn’t to have great tackle stats, it’s to put pressure on the QB and he’s done that. He’s helped force a lot of 4th downs with his speed and tenacious pursuit of the QB.
As for Josh Chapman, his play is always underrated and never talked about. He provides a presence in the middle not a lot of teams have at Nose Tackle. At 6’ 340 pounds and a impressive 40 yard dash for a nose tackle, 5.02 he presents a difficult road block for running backs. Most people notice performances by statistics, but Chapman’s performance cannot be judged by this alone. His large body prevents running backs from finding space to move in between offensive lineman and that’s key.
As for Ricky Jean-Francois he has been a good part-time replacement for the injured Arthur Jones. With 12 tackles and 1 sack in his short time as a starter I’d say he’s filling in well. The Colts would like to have Arthur Jones back though, he is a more specialized pass rusher and is of bigger size.
D’Qwell Jackson. The best sign from this offseason from the Cleveland Browns. Jackson has proved to be the Colts best linebacker and pass rusher this season. His stats have been tremendous; 45 tackles and 3 sacks, both lead the team. He has become a defensive leader for the pass rush and the run stuff. Jackson has been most impressive with his speed in the pass rush; this being because his 40 yard dash is 4.7. That’s not overly fast but for a linebacker it’s pretty decent. The Colts will need him to continue the all-pro caliber season he’s having to compete in the playoffs.
After Robert Mathis’ injury many questioned if the Colts defense could even stay adequate. Well it’s been more than that this season, thanks to the play of second year player Bjoern Werner. Werner has been a pleasant surprise for the Colts pass rush after a rough start. He’s become a presence on the defense that offensive lines have to worry about. Many doubted the potential of Werner; a kid from Germany that played at Florida State? Who is this kid? After a career game against the Baltimore Ravens when he had 2 sacks and 6 tackles; they now know what Bjoern Werner is about and his large potential.
When the Colts needed pass rush early in the year after struggling; 7 year vet Erik Walden came to the rescue recording the first 2 sacks of the season. Since then the whole team has stepped up and he’s taken a step back, but is still productive as a linebacker and as a leader.
Colts star linebacker Jerrell Freeman has been out a few games this year due to a hamstring injury; and Josh McNary has played in his place at middle linebacker. McNary has been very adequate while playing this year. Playing a lot of his minutes as a starter this year he’s recorded a quality 16 tackles and has been a good fill in. As for Jerrell Freeman he been off-and-on with the hamstring injury, but has been productive in each start with 7 tackles. If he gets healthy and stays healthy the rest of the season, that could bode well for the Colts.
The Indianapolis Colts cornerbacks have possibly been the most impressive part of the entire defense this year. Considering Indy leads the league on 3rd down stops, which points to the cornerbacks since teams typically throw on 3rd down most of the time.
Vontae Davis has quite possibly been the most impressive corner in the league so far this season; shutting down wide receivers such as Demaryuis Thomas and Steve Smith. With 2 interceptions, that stat doesn’t stand out, but most teams aren’t throwing the ball his direction. According to Colts head coach Chuck Pagano “They went Richard Sherman on him”. That’s an astute description of what has been happening.
On the other end of the field, Greg Toler has had himself a fantastic season so far. He’s being thrown toward more than anyone on the team this season, and has taken it well. He’s had 2 spectacular interceptions and great coverage on team number 2 receivers. Toler has been a big difference maker this year and people don’t often give him credit.
At strong safety we’ve had a change this year after Antoine Bethea darted off to San Francisco; Mike Adams from the Denver Broncos has been very impressive this year after a slow start. He’s second on the team with 23 tackles and 2 interceptions. He’s done nothing but play well for the Colts this year and hopefully can carry this on for the rest of the season.
Laron Landry started the year at free safety for the Colts for 4 games; then he was suspended for games after violating the NFLs PED policy. Sergio Brown has taken his place in the meantime and has been great. His deep coverage has been nothing short of fantastic and his been a great fill-in, showing his potential. The big issue with safeties so far is the coverage of tight ends. They’ll need to improve upon that the rest of the season.
Last but certainly not least is Darius Butler, who has played nickel for the Colts this year. He’s been doing a great job so far but is out with, although he should return Sunday. With 18 tackles this year that’s very good for a nickelback.
I just have broken down the Colts defensive starters. Each part of this Colts defense is young, talented and hardworking. Making it statistically the best defense the Colts have had. They all have played a vital part in this year’s great defense. The credit goes to GM Ryan Grigson, Chuck Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky for creating a disruptive defense with even better coverage. Look for the Colts this year to tighten the defensive clamps even more and improve before the playoffs.