The Indianapolis Colts are already seeing dividends be paid with their selection of hometown hero JuJu Brents. The rookie cornerback has quickly bursted onto the scene following his professional debut in Week 3, which was pushed back due to rehab from injury. JuJu Brents was thrusted into the starting lineup after being a healthy scratch for the first two weeks of the season. He took over for second-year UDFA Darrell Baker Jr. who struggled immensely as one of the team’s starting corners during those weeks Brents was sidelined.
Since becoming a starter, Brents has totaled 24 tackles, three pass deflections, one forced fumble, and recorded his first career INT in the Colts' Week 6 loss in Jacksonville. Starting at cornerback, let alone being the team's true CB1, is no easy task for a rookie but Brents has impressed time and time again, against some quality names at that.
JuJu Brents has been good for Colts
Though Brents' first interception didn't come until Week 6 in Jacksonville, he's shown a legit presence when the ball is in the air that proves he is already a genuine threat for opposing QBs.
Brents' interception came off pure instincts as opposed to responsibilty. Concept-wise, Brents is tasked with taking any vertical route that may cross his path. He began to that with TE Evan Engram but since he kept his eyes inside before carrying said route any further it allowed for him to make a play on the underneath route and voila, first career interception.
Brents was always a perfect scheme fit for Gus Bradley's defense as he thrives in zone coverage, particularly as a Cover 3 corner, the coverage in which Bradley primarily uses. In the past two weeks, however, Brents has shown to be viable in both man and zone concepts thus far. This comes against two of the league's best WRs in DeAndre Hopkins and most recently Calvin Ridley.
Against the Titans, Brents was found manned up on DeAndre Hopkins for the majority of their matchups. When comparing the matchups, Brents was more physical and technical with the veteran Hopkins, whereas he elected to use his athleticism and instincts to combat the more spry reciever in Ridley.
As previously mentioned, Brents was lined up on Hopkins as the lonesided corner in press man coverage. Brents was following Hopkins everywhere he went and shut him down for the most part, resulting in most of Hopkins' 140 yards on the day coming from the middle of the field. When tested on an island, Brents prevailed.
The Colts needed JuJu Brents in their first contest with the Jaguars in Week 1. As you know from earlier in the article, it was at this time when Darrell Baker Jr. was auditioning for a starting role and Brents was sidelined as he worked back from injury. In that game, Ridley torched the Colts for 101 receiving yards and a score.
Fast forward to the rematch in Week 6 and JuJu Brents handled Ridley. The Jags OC Press Taylor countered Brents' approach with some quick passes that were completed throughout the game, but overall, Brents won the matchup and caused for the Jags to rely on the rest of the offense.
JuJu Brents has experienced some typical rookie growing pains thus far, especially at his position. He has been caught being too aggressive at times and miscommunication has caused for some mishaps, but overall, Brents has continued to stack promising performances and his most recent two-week stretch against two really talented receivers adds to the optimism about his trajectory.