DeForest Buckner’s absence showed why he’s so valuable to the Colts defense in the loss to the Titans Sunday afternoon.
By any metric, the Colts had an embarrassing loss to the Titans at home on Sunday.
Tennessee ran all over the Colts, and Derrick Henry scored three touchdowns in the 45-26 loss played without several key pieces on both sides of the ball for Indy.
While many fans claim that sacks are the biggest point of emphasis on production, the reality goes much deeper than that. Buckner receives the second most double teams in the NFL, only behind Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams. The mere fact that Buckner is on the field means he’s a game-changer.
On the season, the fifth-year pro has 24 tackles, with four going for losses, and three sacks. The production he has comes from putting players in a position to win their battles. Compared to last year, every defensive lineman is having a more productive season due to his presence.
And on Sunday, without him, the defense collapsed from the inside out.
Buckner’s impact is even clearer when you turn on the film. Last season against Pittsburgh as a 49er, Buckner had a bull rush where he pushed the center and the guard back into the quarterback and got a sack. In the Super Bowl, he had a great game until the Chiefs put the game away. Chris Ballard used our first-round pick to get him, an easy move to endorse from the start. Ballard saw the value of getting a player who was already developed and who could make an instant impact.
Buckner may not light up the stat sheet when it comes to sacks, but when you’re watching the game film, you see how he makes every single defensive player better. The value he brings is also in a leadership role on a young and hungry defense for a playoff win.
It’s clear that DeForest Buckner is the most important player on the Colts team right now, and it’s not close. Sunday should’ve been all the evidence you needed to convince a skeptical party of that fact.