Colts: Darius Leonard’s absence shouldn’t matter with front four’s matchup vs Bengals OL

Colts LB Darius Leonard’s absence in Week 6 shouldn’t matter against the Bengals’ dreadful offensive line.

Remember how concerned fans in Indianapolis were heading into Week 5 after the Colts released their lengthy injury report?

Though it didn’t ultimately prove to be their downfall — that lied squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Philip Rivers — the mismatches created by the absences of left tackle Anthony Castonzo and linebacker Darius Leonard undoubtedly made a difference against a Browns team that has a stout defensive line and dominant rushing attack.

Fortunately for Colts fans, that narrative is a bit different this time around. Though he hasn’t officially been ruled out, head coach Frank Reich listed Leonard as doubtful while speaking to reporters on Friday.

In normal circumstances, Indy missing its All-Pro linebacker would be a crushing loss. However, the front four should still be able to wreak havoc against Cincinnati’s dreadful offensive line.

The Bengals’ OL, according to Football Outsiders, currently ranks 26th in the NFL in sacks allowed (12) through the first five weeks. With that in mind, there are no excuses for the likes of Justin Houston, who is questionable with a hip injury but should end up playing, and DeForest Bucker not to go to town on Sunday.

Jonah Williams is Cincy’s only serviceable lineman having conceded just one sack and penalty apiece across 375 snaps, which is tied for first among all tackles. However, as nicely as the 2019 first-round pick has rebounded from shoulder surgery that cost him his entire rookie campaign, we’re not so sure that he’s up to the task of containing either one of Houston or Buckner.

Indianapolis’ stud defensive line tandem have combined to compile 33 tackles (six for loss), six sacks, 15 QB hits, and one forced safety so far this season.

How bad has the Bengals’ offensive line been in 2020? Well, let’s just say it surrendered seven sacks and 15 QB hits last weekend against Baltimore. That’s ONE game, folks. While some of those were on Joe Burrow for holding on to the football for too long, that’s to be expected from a rookie signal caller and doesn’t come close to excusing the collective putrid effort from the group.

Throw in the fact that the Bengals have been extremely vulnerable against the run — they rank 30th in the league with a whopping 159 yards allowed per game — and you’ll realize that Cincinnati was quite literally made in a lab to complement the Colts’ strengths.

Either way, the bottom line is that Leonard’s likely absence shouldn’t be felt too much (if at all) on Sunday.