Each offseason, every NFL team focuses on at least one area in need of an upgrade. So what aspect of the Indianapolis Colts is looking better these days?
Training camp begins later this month for all 32 NFL teams. So that means another preview series from End Zone Score. Dating back to early March, we have taken time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers and previewed an up-and-coming player for each franchise.
Contrary to popular opinions, no team in the league is perfect. That’s why there’s a constant search for talent when it comes to this game. Each club has done its best to bolster its roster. So in this instance, we are going to take a glance at each franchise and pinpoint the department in which it made the most strides this offseason. We have looked at the AFC East, NFC East, AFC North and NFC North. We’ve talked Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans. We now preview the Indianapolis Colts.
The last time the Indianapolis Colt finished in the NFL’s Top 10 in terms of fewest total yards allowed per game was back in 2007. Defense has been a four-letter word when it comes to this unit in quite some time. And that word is not G-O-O-D.
This past season, Chuck Pagano’s club gave up the third-most total yards per game in the league. The Colts were 25th vs. the run while only five clubs surrendered more passing yards per contest. The team allowed 39 offensive touchdowns and managed only 17 takeaways. A less-than-fearsome pass rush managed only 33 sacks – exactly one third of those coming from outside linebacker Erik Walden (11).
New general manager Chris Ballard and the franchise opted not to bring back the free agent defender and he remains unsigned. Instead, he welcomed a trio of outside linebackers in former New England Patriots‘ Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo, as well as division-rival John Simon (Houston Texans). To make those outside threats more potent, the team landed a big-time interior defender in Johnathan Hankins (New York Giants). He should also help the team’s issues against the run.
The free-agent additions of defensive end Margus Hunt (Cincinnati Bengals) and nose tackle Al Woods (Tennessee Titans) shows the emphasis Ballard put on rebuilding the front seven this offseason. He also stressed defense in the draft in April, using the team’s first three picks and six of the club’s eight selections on this side of the football.
Five-year quarterback Andrew Luck, as well as Pagano, have taken a lot of heat these past two seasons for the Indianapolis Colts’ failure to get back to the playoffs. During both men’s tenure, the emphasis for the franchise seemed to be on offense. A better pass rush led by the likes of Sheard, Simon and Mingo could be the start of turning things around in a good way for this defensive unit.