The series continues with one of the new linebackers brought in to help rush the passer.
Jabaal Sheard was one of the new linebackers brought in by GM Chris Ballard this past off-season. His reputation is a pass-rush specialist. Ballard brought him in to help bring the quarterback down. But did he do that job well this season?
The only reason Sheard was on the field in any given situation was for pass rush. He’s an average run stopper, but not good enough to lean on. He relies on speed more than power. If the Colts force a third and long, he can typically pin his ears back and speed rush the edge.
Sheard recorded 5.5 sacks in his first season with the Colts, which led the team. He seemed to provide the only source of consistent pressure that the Colts could muster. It didn’t help that the Colts defense wasn’t in many third and long situations. Because of that, Sheard couldn’t unleash his full potential on enemy QB’s.
As good as he was accumulating sacks, his run defense was not good. He doesn’t have the power or strength to plug up holes on the interior. He’s even worse in coverage. He can be quick coming off the edge getting to a quarterback, but his foot speed in space is very much lacking. Covering tight ends is a no-no, and even covering running backs is tough for him.
While his pass rushing was valuable to the team, his skills aren’t well rounded enough to warrant him being on the field every down. He is only very good at one thing. And while he is good at that one thing, the Colts are going to need to see improvement from him if he wants to see the field more.