Colts’ defensive line rotation could be key to relentless pass rush

The Colts’ lengthy defensive line rotation could be key to their pass rushing efficiency.

The Indianapolis Colts’ pass rush might not be recognized as one of the most formidable units in the league, but they absolutely deserve more respect than they have garnered so far this season.

Through Week 8, the group ranks 11th in the NFL with a respectable 2.3 sacks per game and seventh with 32 quarterback hurries. Those impressive numbers come despite the fact that Indy has the fourth-lowest blitz rate (18.8%) of any team.

Outside of defensive end Justin Houston and interior lineman DeForest Buckner, who have combined to compiled 40 tackles (eight for loss) six sacks, 19 QB hits and two safeties across seven games, there are arguably zero other members of the defensive line that have heaped praise from fans and pundits.

That’s downright criminal when you consider how often the Colts have rotated up front during games this season. In Sunday’s win over Detroit, a whopping eight players logged at least 25% of the defensive snaps, further proving that a heavy rotation has been key to Indianapolis’ consistent pass rush.

Here’s a complete breakdown of Indianapolis’ DL rotation from Sunday, which was provided by Andrew Walker of Colts.com. It’s a lengthy list, but that’s precisely what makes it such an awe-inspiring blueprint from head coach Frank Reich and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.

  • Buckner: 46 snaps, or 75%
  • Al-Quadin Muhammad: 38 snaps, or 62%
  • Houston: 36 snaps, or 59%
  • Denico Autry: 33 snaps, or 54%
  • Tyquan Lewis: 25 snaps, or 41%
  • Grover Stewart: 21 snaps, or 34%
  • Ben Banogu: 18 snaps, or 30%
  • Sheldon Day: 15 snaps, or 25%
  • Taylor Stallworth: 10 snaps, or 16%

The most impressive performer of that bunch was no doubt Tyquan Lewis, who racked up three tackles, two sacks and one pass defended in just 25 snaps. It’s cerazy to think that his 41% snap share vs the Lions was his highest (by a wide margin, too) for the season. Given his recent performances, the 2018 second-round pick simply HAS to play more moving forward.

You know what else should scare the living daylights out of upcoming opponents? The fact that Kemoko Turay, who flashed star potential in four games last season before suffering a gruesome dislocated right ankle in Week 5 against the Chiefs, has yet to enter the fold.

The Colts have understandably slow-played his return to the gridiron, but it’s only a matter of time until he becomes a part of Indy’s lethal rotation of pass rushers.

Make no mistake about it, folks; maintaining a fluid rotation on the defensive line should continue to be the way forward for Indianapolis. The importance of fresh legs on the heels of a delayed training camp and canceled preseason cannot be understated, and the Colts look like they have found a foolproof loophole to overcome those unprecedented circumstances.