Indianapolis Colts safety Clayton Geathers had surgery to repair his injured neck and the timetable for his return is currently unknown. His status is a key to the Colts’ future.
Clayton Geathers was forced on to the injured reserve list last season with a neck injury sustained during a Week 11 win against the Tennessee Titans where he made a game-saving tackle on a fourth-and-1 situation, and helped keep the Colts’ playoff chances alive.
Little did we know this stop would be the end of his great season. Following the season, Geathers had surgery to repair his injured neck and the timetable for his return is currently unknown.
While Andrew Luck‘s shoulder injury has been the hot topic around Colts Nation, Clayton Geathers’ neck injury should be warranting more attention. Getting Geathers back will be important for the Colts future, as the 6’2″, 220-pound safety is the main source of physicality for the Colts’ defense.
The Central Florida prospect was selected by the Colts in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, and Geathers was one of the few successful draft picks made by former Colts general manager Ryan Grigson.
Clayton Geathers is a hard-hitting safety, solid coverage man, and an excellent weapon for the Colts’ defense that is nearly impossible to replace.
Since entering the league he has had trouble staying healthy, but he’s one of the few bright spots in the Colts’ woeful defense when he is on the field.
Geathers’ latest injury is a scary one due to its unpredictability because nobody knows how severely or how long this injury will affect him.
It is possible that he will heal well and be back early in the season, but a lingering injury that lasts months or even years could also become a reality.
The Colts’ defense struggles significantly without Geathers, as seen last season. The run defense is much weaker without him, most notably seen in Week 17 against the Jaguars. In this game, Jaguars running back Corey Grant rushed for a season-high 122 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
Considering Grant’s next-highest output of the season was a 27-yard day against the Titans the week before, it is obvious that the Colts’ already-weak run defense is downgraded when Geathers is not on the field.
The Colts are hoping to start rookie Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers as their safeties this season. This tandem, featuring a hard-hitter in Geathers and a ball-hawk in Malik Hooker, would allow defensive coordinator Ted Monachino to play Geathers in the box with Malik Hooker as a single-high safety.
This look could improve the Colts’ run defense, which has been terrible the last few years. Without Geathers, the Colts will struggle at the safety position. If he misses time, they will be forced to either start second-year safety T.J. Green or converted nickel cornerback Darius Butler.
Green posted a terrible rookie campaign last season as his pass coverage was not up to NFL standards, and Butler is small for the safety position weighing only about 185 pounds.
Butler’s small frame is a cause for concern because he could easily sustain an injury if forced to spend a significant amount of time as the starting safety. The Colts do not have a safe option behind Clayton Geathers if the neck injury lingers deep into the season.
A full recovery for Clayton Geathers is necessary for the Colts’ defensive success. Without him, the secondary takes a major downgrade, regardless of whether it is Darius Butler or T.J. Green who steps in for him.
However, the Colts are not expected to make a deep playoff run this season, and Clayton Geathers should not be inserted back into the lineup until he is 100% healthy. The Colts are on a wait-and-see basis with this injury, and fans can only hope for the best.
It is natural for Colts fans to worry about an injury-riddled safety after watching the career of Bob Sanders, who could never stay healthy and ultimately had his career cut short.
Just like Sanders, Clayton Geathers is full of potential, but he can only reach his potential if his body holds up and allows him to take the field for the Colts each Sunday.