Colts snubbed in latest defensive rankings heading into the season

Jaleel Grandberry
Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) celebrates after making an interception Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, during a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) celebrates after making an interception Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, during a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. /
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Despite having one of the most talented defensive units, the Indianapolis Colts have been left off a preseason ranking for best defenses.

Last season, the Indianapolis Colts had a special year defensively, specializing in taking the ball away. The Colts had 33 takeaways, which was second in the league, one behind the Dallas Cowboys. While Indy occasionally struggled when it wasn’t forcing turnovers, it was still a solid defensive unit.

Indianapolis was ninth in the NFL in points allowed, giving up 21.5 points a game. This top-10 performance was led by Pro Bowl players Shaquille Leonard, Kenny Moore, and DeForest Buckner. The three helped a young defense emerge as one of the best in the league, and now, Indy is only getting better.

This offseason, the Colts traded for Yannick Ngakoue and signed Stephon Gilmore. The team also got Julian Blackmon back from injury and has several other emerging young players. All in all, Indianapolis is expected to have a dominant defense this season and that’s been the case in training camp so far.

However, everyone isn’t sold that Indy will have one of the top defensive units. Recently, NFL columnist, Adam Schein, ranked his top nine defenses heading into the 2022 season. One of the groups noticeably absent from the list was the Indianapolis Colts.

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Colts’ defense will have to earn respect

The teams that Schein listed are definitely defenses that are expected to be good. All of them were good last season with the exception of the Los Angeles Chargers. But, the Chargers have added Khalil Mack and JC Jackson to a defense with Joey Bosa and Derwin James, so things should be different. However, Indy deserves a spot on this list.

It’s easy to say a team should be included but it’s sometimes hard to say which team should be bumped. So, to make room for the Colts, the Cleveland Browns are a team that can be moved. While Cleveland has Myles Garrett and a promising young secondary, Indianapolis is built to have the better overall unit.

DeForest Buckner and Yannick Ngakoue should lead a much improved defensive line, and the name Shaquille Leonard speaks for itself. Once Leonard returns, he and Bobby Okereke will be one of the league’s best linebacker duos. Finally, the Colts have a secondary with two Pro Bowl players in Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore, but they also have several promising young guys like Blackmon, Nick Cross, Brandon Facyson, and Isaiah Rodgers.

With this much talent, as long as the defense can stay relatively healthy, they should be able to put it all together in Gus Bradley’s scheme and be a top-10 unit in the NFL.

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