The Indianapolis Colts will enter the 2023 season with a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback. When that became evident back in February, star linebacker Shaquille Leonard expressed that he wanted to prepare the defense for that experience. Understanding that the offense could have some growing pains, the defense is preparing to be elite and assist the offense as much as possible.
Now that the Colts are actually in training camp, there are tangible goals attached to that standard. In a recent interview with NFL Network, Shaquille Leonard revealed one of those goals. Sitting down with Stacey Dales, Leonard shared that Indy’s defense is shooting for 40 takeaways this season.
Colts defense wants to force at least 40 turnovers
When asked what are the expectations for the team, Leonard explained that it’s simply being a lot better than last season. He went on to speak specifically about the defense, saying, “we gotta find a way to take the ball away. We’re talking about having 40+ takeaways to give the offense the ball back as much as we can.”
When Leonard revealed the 40+ turnovers goal, Dales was taken aback, as she interjected with a “wow.” The reason why is that 40+ turnovers in a single season is very hard to accomplish. Last season, the Dallas Cowboys led the NFL with 33 takeaways. The last time a team had at least 40 takeaways was in 2012, when the Chicago Bears forced 44 turnovers. It hasn’t been done in over a decade, but the Colts are making it a goal.
If any team is going to accomplish it, Indianapolis is certainly a unit with one of the best chances. Just two seasons ago in 2021, the defense had 33 takeaways. A big reason why was Shaquille Leonard. He forced eight fumbles, recovered three, and had four interceptions. Now healthy, he’ll have to have a similar season if the defense is going to accomplish this goal.
Everyone will have to go after the ball at a different level. Every player in the secondary will have to be a ball hawk, and the defensive line will need a bunch of strip sacks. If the defense can reach this goal of 40 turnovers, or even get close, the Colts should be competitive in 2023, and the young offense will be set up nice to make some noise.