Colts defense has struggled this season but the unit is doing one thing really well

The Indianapolis Colts have had their ups and downs defensively in 2023, but the unit is excelling in a category that it needed to make prominent again.
Indianapolis Colts v Carolina Panthers
Indianapolis Colts v Carolina Panthers / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

Entering the 2023 season, the expectation was that Indy’s defense would be the team’s reliable unit, while the offense gradually came along. It made sense for that to be expected. The defense was solid last year while the offense was abysmal, and linebacker Shaquille Leonard was being added back into the mix. However, Indianapolis has seen the opposite happen.

Indy’s offense has been one of the best in the league, averaging 344.1 yards and 25.8 points a game— seventh-most points per game. The defense, on the other hand, is giving up 360.6 yards a game, 26th in the league, and 26.9 points per game, 29th in the league. While these numbers are pretty bad, the defense is good at one thing.

The Colts are once again consistently taking the ball away. In nine games this season, Indy has 14 takeaways— tied for seventh-best in the NFL.

Colts defense is good at creating turnovers

Last season, when Indianapolis was playing well defensively, one of the few critiques was that the unit didn’t force enough turnovers. In 2022, the Colts only had 21 takeaways, which was middle of the pack. It was a big change since Indy was one of the most opportunistic defenses in 2021, taking the ball away 33 times, one mark shy of the league lead.

Many credited the decline in 2022 to the abscence of the NFL’s Turnover King Shaquille Leonard. Leonard is back on the field, but he hasn’t contributed to any turnovers yet, which has been a point of contention. Regardless, the Colts’ defense already has nine interceptions and five recovered fumbles on the season.

Everyone knows that turnover differential is one of the biggest deciding factors in a football game, especially when they lead to points. Kenny Moore II showcased that in Week 9 with his two pick sixes. The team that usually wins the turnover battle wins the game.

The unfortunate thing is that Indy’s turnover differential is 0. While the defense has been good taking the ball away, the offense has been horrible at protecting the football, turning it over an equal 13 times. If the offense can clean things up and hold on to the ball, and the defense remains aggressive at taking the ball away, the Colts should be able to win a lot more games this season.

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