Colts offense regressed after a coordinator change, is this the defense’s fate?
Can the Indianapolis Colts defense avoid regression with a new defensive coordinator?
For the second offseason in a row, the Indianapolis Colts have lost a coordinator to a head coaching opportunity. Last season it was Nick Sirianni to the Philadelphia Eagles.
This year, it’s defensive coordinator, Matt Eberflus, to the Chicago Bears.
This is a sign that Indianapolis is doing something right, however, it can be a disruptive process. The Colts are constantly having to hire new coordinators while also hoping to keep progressing.
It’s a lot to ask a unit not to take a step back when a good coordinator is replaced. The challenge of something new typically presents a learning curve of some sort and causes a bit of regression.
It happened this season with the Colts’ offense. In 2020 with Sirianni, Indy averaged 378.1 yards a game and 28.2 points. This season, the offense dropped to 347.1 yards a game and 26.5 points.
In fairness to Indianapolis’ offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, he wasn’t the only new thing about the offense. The Colts also lost Phillip Rivers to retirement and had to integrate Carson Wentz.
However, this represents the challenge the defense will face to maintain in the face of personnel turnover.
Is a regression for the Colts defense inevitable?
This season, Indy’s defense finished the year allowing 343.2 yards a game and 21.5 points. They allowed just 109.1 yards on the ground and 234.1 through the air.
The thing that made this year’s defense special was the ability to force turnovers, recording 19 interceptions and recovering 14 fumbles.
The good thing is, the stars of this defense will be back next season. Players like Darius Leonard, Kenny Moore, DeForest Buckner, and several other starters will all return. Not to mention, Julian Blackmon is returning from an Achilles injury.
Something else working in Indy’s favor is, Chris Ballard seemed motivated to improve the defensive line this offseason. The young guys struggled to consistently generate a pass rush this year, so Indianapolis may upgrade at the defensive line position.
With the returning starters and possible additions that would be an upgrade, it seems like the Colts defense should be able to avoid a serious regression.
The only concern is if Indianapolis hires a coordinator who wants to introduce a different scheme and philosophy. In those situations, there can usually be a year of growing pains as players must adjust how they play defense.
If the scheme remains the same, Indy has the players in place to keep the ball rolling.