What is Wrong with the Colts’ Pass Defense?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 08: Marquise Goodwin
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 08: Marquise Goodwin /

The Colts defense has been horrendous defending the pass so far this season. What’s wrong and how can it be fixed?

Indianapolis ranks 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game as opponents are racking up an average of 296 yards per game through the air. Granted, both the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams have a Top 10 passing attack, but the 49ers, Browns and Titans all feature offenses that average less than 230 yards passing.

Why is the Colts’ defense allowing so many yards through the air? One of the key components to a good pass defense starts up front.

Putting pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback leads to hurried throws and check-down passes. The Colts rank near the bottom of the league in sacks with 12. Jabaal Sheard, Henry Anderson and John Simon need to get a better push up front to help out the secondary.

Now let’s check out the defensive backfield. The Colts are tied for fifth in the league in interceptions with seven.

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The biggest bright spot in the Indianapolis secondary is rookie cornerback Nate Hairston. The rookie out of Temple has impressed early with two sacks on the season, including a safety on Russell Wilson during the Sunday night game against Seattle. Hairston is allowing one catch every 16.8 snaps he plays in coverage.

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The Colts’ secondary is in the beginning stages of a youth movement. Drafting Hairston, Quincy Wilson and Malik Hooker this past spring was a step in the right direction. Second-year safety Matthias Farley is only 25 years old, and journeyman cornerback Rashaan Melvin, who has two interceptions on the season, is only 28.

While Vontae Davis and Darius Butler can still contribute, it is undeniable that their skills have begun to diminish as Davis is 29 and Butler is 31.

If the Colts wish to improve on their pass defense, it starts with personnel and Indianapolis has drafted some big-bodied defensive backs that possess good speed and ball skills. Allocating more playing time to Hooker, Hairston and Wilson to further their development is a must going forward.

More pressure off the edge and an increase in playing time for the young guns in the Indianapolis secondary is the first step to getting the Colts’ woeful pass defense on track. Combined with an improving run defense, perhaps the Colts can climb out of the lower rungs of the NFL’s defensive rankings.