Last season the Colts offense ranked 10th in the NFL. The defense also ranked 10th, but this year has brought some major changes.
Obviously Brissett is at the helm now but the offense actually improved to 8th while the defense has been demolished. Leaving them with the 31st best defense…(per @fboutsiders) The question has to be what exactly clanged for the Colts defense. Here’s my thoughts on what changed.
The Colts didn’t lose much in the offseason. No major player left the team. Some leadership walked out the door in Mike Mitchell. But they gained a NFL vet in Justin Houston. Although Mitchell was not a major loss. You could tell he did bring a sense of leadership to the defense who finished in the top 10.
The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year has been sidelined with a concussion. So that means the teams leading tackler is out, Malik Hooker arguably one of the Colts best secondary players is out. Two big losses on the Colts defense has painfully hurt the Colts in the early going of the season.
Younger players NEED to grow up and step up faster than usual. Bobby Okereke has played well in my eyes. But he’s not Leonard. No where near what Leonard is…yet. Stand out rookie Khari Willis has been exceptional in his expanded role but does still make rookie mistakes.
The Colts defense last year was so good that first year defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus was getting talked about as a head coach candidate for teams around the league, and rightfully so. But his scheme has been flawed this season. The bend don’t break mentality is failing BIG TIME, because the defense is bending so much that it is breaking.
The Tampa 2 worked last season but hasn’t been working this season. They’re not only giving up the killer big plays but more importantly they’re not getting off the field on 3rd down. Giving up chunk plays is killing momentum and killing the swag the defense has. Not getting off the field on 3rd down means the defense is on the field for longer periods of time. Wearing the defense out but also killing momentum from the offense.
If you look at last season to this season there’s a glaring difference. The Colts last season relied on having a big impactful play late in the game. Whether it was a key sack late, a late interception, or my favorite a Maniac caused fumble. We haven’t seen the Colts defense step up and make a play late in the game. Malik Hooker I didn’t forget you. Yes Hooker had the SC top 10 one handed interception week one vs the Chargers, but we haven’t seen that big play late in the game since.
The Colts have a lot to work on in the coming weeks to turn the poor defense around. Getting Darius Leonard back at practice on Wednesday is big. The defense is noticeably better on 3rd down with him on the field. Getting another pass rusher in Sheard back will definitely help. You saw Sunday he was arguably one of the best players on the field. The scheme isn’t the only thing to blame but if the Colts look to compete and make a run in the playoffs they absolutely need to be making constant adjustments.