Colts defense and Ted Monachino’s success starts with Ryan Grigson

Jan 3, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on the field before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on the field before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports /

2015 was filled with disappointment for the Colts and as the smoke cleared on Black Monday, it appeared 2016 may be filled with that same level of mediocrity.

I understand the argument of continuity but someone had to go from this love triangle and the prevailing thought was that GM Ryan Grigson should be the odd man out while coach Chuck Pagano would be the one shown the door.

Speculation on the rift between head coach Pagano and Grigson saw even more confusion when both parties were retained and accepted four-year extensions. There was a coaching casualty in the form of defensive coordinator Greg Manusky getting axed and long-time Ravens linebackers coach Ted Monachino replacing the four-year Colt.

While it’s been well documented what Monachino did for the Ravens’ defense as a linebacker coach (not so much last season), this is his first coordinator position making every move Grigson and the Colts make that much more important to the Colts defense in 2016.

Use their first round pick on a defender: Let’s be honest, even with the pounding the Colts quarterbacks took collectively, the defensive side of the ball needs the most attention. The Colts had the eighth worst run defense in terms of yards per rush, points allowed and gave up the third most runs that went for 20-or-more yards.

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Most of the onus for that falls on the linebacker corp. With their 18th pick, the Colts should target an outside linebacker, and should look closely at Georgia’s Leonard Floyd—if he’s available. In his junior season, Floyd registered 74 tackles, 10 for loss and 4.5 sacks for the Bulldogs, showing that he’s not just a one-trick pony.

If Monachino is as good as everyone says he is, Floyd would flourish under his direction and bring respectability to the Colts run defense.

Open the checkbook for a “game changer”: Even with the return of Robert Mathis, the Colts still failed to generate much of a pass rush in 2015, amassing only 35 sacks. Mathis, along with Kendall Langford led the pack with just seven sacks apiece.

The aforementioned Floyd could help in that area, but securing a pass rushing specialist—much like Trent Cole should have been— is what’s going to make all the difference when facing top quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Finding a pass rush specialist shouldn’t be too difficult, whether it comes from the draft or free agency. If the Colts brass are truly serious about bringing multiple championships to Indy in the Luck era, they’d throw everything they can at Von Miller, who’s scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season.

Andrew Luck’s next contract will surely deplete what the Colts have left in the account for the 2017 season and beyond, but getting star power like Miller on the defensive side of the ball is equally as important.

Let Greg Toler walk: While the secondary played sporadic at times during last season, there was one constant and it wasn’t a good one: Greg Toler. The Colts secondary was tied for sixth in the league with 17 interceptions and tied for first with four returned for touchdowns.

Unfortunately, Toler contributed to neither. In his three years in Indy, he’s missed 14 games due to injury and when he has been on the field, opposing wide receivers seem to have their way with him.

Whether it’s blow coverage or blown knees, Toler being entrenched as the Colts starting corner opposite Vontae Davis has to come to an end next season.

Whether or not the player set to take the reigns from Toler is on the roster currently matters not; upgrades can be found nearly anywhere. I played two years of high school football and I’m pretty sure I could have done what Toler did, for a lot cheaper.

Next: Colts Hire Ted Monachino as Defensive Coordinator

As I mentioned before, there are way too many things to address—on either side of the ball—but in order for Monachino to be successful in his rookie debut, Grigson (and Irsay/Pagano by extension) needs to look at addressing these issues before anything not called “Andrew Luck extension.”