In the last few years, the Indianapolis Colts were believed to have one of the best linebacker units in all of football. It was true then, and it’s even more so the case now. Indy’s linebacker group is even better than it has been in recent years, and through just three games, they are already making it clear that they are one of the best units in all of football.
Over the offseason, the Colts lost starting linebacker Bobby Okereke, however, the team didn’t miss a beat, because the group was already so deep. Led by Zaire Franklin, Shaquille Leonard, and EJ Speed, Indy’s linebackers fly around every Sunday and set the tone for a promising defense and elite defensive front.
Zaire Franklin leads elite Colts linebacker group
Zaire Franklin, currently has a league-leading 45 tackles after three games. Just last season, he was fourth in the NFL with 167 tackles, a Colts’ franchise record. The record was previously held by Shaquille Leonard, who’s now healthy and currently back on the field making plays. Leonard is still working his way back into elite form, but he has already been productive, recording 19 tackles in three games, the third most on the team so far this season.
Then there’s EJ Speed, who’s currently fourth on the team with 15 total tackles. Speed, however, truly lives up to his name, as he routinely shoots gaps to bring down ball carries in the backfield. Through three games, he has four tackles for a loss. That’s tied for the most on the team with defensive ends Kwity Paye and Samson Ebukam.
One of Speed’s TFLs came in a two-play sequence during Indy’s Week 3 win against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, that showed how great the linebackers are. On a second down, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson escaped the pocket and took off to run with a lot of open field in front of him. Anyone who’s familiar with Jackson’s game knows that him being in open field is a defense’s nightmare. However, Zaire Franklin came screaming across the field and tackled Jackson before he could pick up a first down, and likely many more yards.
A play later, on third down, EJ Speed shot the gap and took down a Baltimore running back in the backfield, ending a Ravens drive. Those two plays exemplified what the Colts linebackers do every weekend. They’re all fast, strong, athletic, and smart, and make clutch plays that puts the team in positions to win. They’re undoubtedly one of the best linebacker groups, and they should be in the conversation for the best unit in football.