3. Indy’s defensive stars aren’t playing like stars
Most teams go as their best players go. When the top players are excelling, the team is prospering. When those top players are struggling, so is the team. That’s why it’s important for teams’ stars to play like stars. That hasn’t been the case for the Colts’ defense in the first two games.
The promise of Indy’s defense was about how many Pro Bowl players the team had at each level. DeForest Buckner and Yannick Ngakoue on the defensive line, Shaq Leonard in the middle, and Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore in the defensive backfield. We already covered how Leonard has been out, but these other top players who have been active haven’t been playing up to their reputations.
Buckner has played in both games and he has eight tackles, one for a loss, but just two quarterback hurries. No sacks or knockdowns from the Pro Bowl defensive tackle. Ngakoue, who was traded for to be a difference in the pass rush, hasn’t been much better. He has three total pressures, a hurry, and two knockdowns but no sacks.
Stephon Gilmore hasn’t been bad but he hasn’t been a shutdown corner either. He’s been targeted 15 times and allowed just six catches for 58 yards in two games but he has left some plays on the field. Kenny Moore, on the other hand, has been targeted 10 times and allowed eight receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown. Both of these corners will have to improve for Indy to reach its potential.
But, it’s not just the veterans either. Promising young players like Julian Blackmon have dropped interceptions or missed plays that have to be made if this defense is going to be elite. Guys have to start stepping up and playing big.