ESPN’s ranking of Colts defensive triplets makes no sense
According to a recent analysis of the Indianapolis Colts defense, they have the the 25th ranked defensive triplets.
Sometimes ranking all the teams in the NFL on different criteria provides some interesting results. Other times it results in painfully bad analysis that shows covering the NFL as a whole is much too difficult to handle.
The recent piece by ESPN’s Bill Barnwell ranking defensive triplets falls into the latter category, at least for the Colts. In this piece he says that the team’s three best defensive players are cornerback Vontae Davis, safety Mike Adams, and … defensive end Art Jones?
This is just baffling bad analysis by Barnwell. Here’s what he had to say about the Colts:
"If the Jags become a cautionary tale for spending extensively in free agency and failing to improve matters, they’ll only be taking that title away from the Colts, who have a defensive lineup full of names who have failed to live up to their contracts or their résumés. (Davis, remember, was acquired via trade.) Adams, who has made the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons at the ages of 33 and 34, has been one of the rare exceptions, but he’s also entering his age-35 season. The Colts might very well start two homegrown players — 2015 fourth-rounder Clayton Geathers and fellow fifth-rounder David Parry — on defense this season. You don’t necessarily need to develop your own talent to find stars, but your chances of finding a dominant player in free agency in an era when the cap is rising by close to 10 percent on an annual basis is remarkably slim."
It is difficult to find a place to start with this mess.
Let’s start with the obvious and that’s including Jones in the defensive triplets. How the hell can a player who has only appeared in 12 games (including the playoffs) in the past two seasons (all of which were in 2014) be one of the team’s best players heading into 2016? He missed all of last season with an ankle injury and hasn’t been that effective when he’s been on the field.
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Jones has been a massive disappointment and there’s a chance he’s cut before the season begins. There are plenty of other players Barnwell could have picked for the third member. Robert Mathis perhaps? Or Kendall Langford (who was, by the way, a great free agent addition last year). Maybe Patrick Robinson, he had a pretty good 2015 season with the Chargers. Even Henry Anderson would have been a good choice.
Barnwell doesn’t even defend the selection of Jones to this list. It feels as if he looked at a roster and picked out the first names he recognized in alphabetical order. He even notes that 2015 is weighted as the most important season, which makes no sense as Jones was on IR all year.
Lets move on to Jaguars comparisons. Which defensive free agent additions to the Colts is Barnwell picking on? Adams has been fantastic. Erik Walden has improved every year with the Colts. Langford was outstanding last season. Dwight Lowery had a good season for a one-year rental.
Robinson is a clear upgrade over Greg Toler (who, yes was a bad signing). D’Qwell Jackson certainly hasn’t been great, but certainly isn’t a disaster either. Most of the bad free agent signings have been on the offensive side of the ball.
Barnwell notes some “homegrown” talent and says that Perry could start, which is exactly what he did as a rookie in 2015. In fact the Colts started two rookies for most of last season on the defensive line with Perry and Anderson.
This is just bad, lazy analysis by Barnwell. He breaks his own rules, offers nothing to back up his assertions, doesn’t defend the trio selections, and babbles about random free agency stuff that has nothing to do with the defensive players he picks.
Next: Two Colts on cusp of PFF Top 101
There is no issue with the rankings, the Colts face a massive uphill battle with their defense and will likely be in shootouts with most opponents this season. But the between the Jones selection and bad breakdown, this is a wasted effort by Barnwell and ESPN.