If it’s one thing Chris Ballard has been trying to build since he took over as general manager for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, it’s an elite defensive line. The Colts have used several draft picks on defensive linemen and have also signed and traded for veterans. This was all done so that Indianapolis could have about eight or so guys that could consistently get after the quarterback.
For a while, it didn’t seem like Ballard’s investment was paying off. Year after year, the pass rush was average with one or two solid guys. Fortunately, that has changed. After 13 weeks of the 2023 NFL season, the Indianapolis Colts officially have one of the league’s best pass rushing defensive lines. Not only is it evident when watching Indy’s games, the numbers support it. Indianapolis has 42 sacks on the season, second most in the NFL behind the Baltimore Ravens who have 47.
Colts have the second-most team sacks in the NFL
For a few years, DeForest Buckner was the only consistent pass rusher for Indianapolis. Now, the dynamic of the defensive line is much like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles meme, where the turtles are all grown up and are leading Master Splinter now. Make no mistake, Buckner is still playing elite football, but he has consistent help off the edges now.
Leading the team in sacks is defensive end Samson Ebukam, who was signed this offseason. Prior to this season, Ebukam had never had more than five sacks in a single season. He already has eight on the year. Right behind Ebukam is Kwity Paye, who was drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Paye has 7.5 sacks on the season, which is a career high for him as well.
Also having a career year is Dayo Odeyingbo, who is third on the team with 6.5 sacks. Then there’s the veteran Buckner with 5.5, followed by Tyquan Lewis with three. Everyone along the defensive line has been contributing and it’s a big reason why Indy is pushing for a playoff berth.
The Colts were banking on guys like Ebukam, Paye, and Odeyingbo to all take significant strides this season and the did just that. As a result, Indianapolis has a really good defensive line that is young with plenty of room to get even better. As they continue to grow alongside each other in Indianapolis, the pass rush should only get more menacing.