As the season moves on, will the young secondary continue to be an issue for the Colts?
Week 1 presented a Colts team that was humbled by a lesser team, and allowed an average quarterback to look like Peyton Manning circa 2004.
Gardner Minshew III threw more touchdowns than incompletions and excelled in the short passing game with 19-of-20 completions and a perfect passer rating. Minshew, who got the starting role after Nick Foles went down last season, took the job and ran with it. He continued his success into the 2020 season, looking sharp and making fools out of our young secondary.
Going into the season, I claimed that the Colts secondary would continue to be an issue, and even more so when they let Pierre Desir walk in free agency after cutting him. To fill this hole, Chris Ballard signed Vikings veteran Xavier Rhodes, who is likely in the final years of his career. Rhodes was coming off a particularly bad season, giving up a lot of yards and receptions. To be fair to him, he played the Packers twice a year, and was asked to cover Davante Adams in both instances.
After him, Rock Ya-SIn and T.J Carrier take on prominent roles, with Kenny Moore III and Isaiah Rodgers as the Nickel corners. At the Safety position, second-year player Khari Willis, who had a great rookie campaign, lines up with Malik Hooker, with George Odum and Tavon Wilson as the backups, with rookie Julian Blackmon still healing from his injury in college.
The secondary was torn apart left and right against an offense that doesn’t have too much talent on it led by an inexperienced quarterback who is average at best. The focal point for Ballard in 2019 was defensive speed and he got it, but now we need a shutdown cornerback to lead this defense. Ballard and Reich are great at building teams through the draft, sure, but part of me still wonders if the Colts ever tried to trade up to get Ohio State’s Damon Arnette.
My main issue with Ryan Grigson (although there were too many to count) was the constant raiding of the retirement home. He overpaid for veteran players who were released for a reason. He signed Andre Johnson two years too late, and constantly signed veteran defensive linemen who were past their prime and injury-prone. He focused too much on skill positions and not enough on the positions that mattered.
While every position is important to a football team, the trenches and cornerback are two of the three most essential elements, the third being quarterback. So far, the Colts have a great offensive and defensive line, with a quarterback who has some skills left. The front seven, led by Pro Bowl snub Darius Leonard, is one of the best in the NFL on paper. However, the secondary is young and inexperienced, and will continue to be a problem throughout the season.
This offseason, or even before the trade deadline, I’d like to see a focus on a shutdown corner. Until then, we have to make the best that we can of the situation, and that means the pass-rushers will have to work harder.