The Indianapolis Colts are days away from heading to training camp. Recently, we looked at players who need to step up on offense. Today, we look over the defense.
Everyone who thinks they need to step up their game, please raise your hand. All of your hands should be up. Except you, Robert Mathis, put yours down and make sure to give this list to your doctor next time.
The Colts were 19th in DVOA on defense last season (13th vs the pass, 22nd on the ground). They were 20th in yards allowed but ninth in points, giving up 21 per game.
That may not seem so bad, but this is also the same defense that surrendered 88 points in two playoff games. During the regular season, the Colts gave up 28 or more points just five times last season, and won two of those games (ironically against the two teams in the Super Bowl).
The Colts made a couple of additions to the team in the offseason that were designed to shore up the run defense. Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and defensive end Arthur Jones were both brought in to toughen up the defense.
With all the holes on defense, there could be an analysis of every single player, but we’ll try to single out just a few.
Here’s who needs to improve their game in 2014:
Werner is going to get every opportunity to prove he’s a quality players with Mathis out for the first four games of the season. He finished last season with 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Werner also missed three games due to injury last season.
Its clear that he has potential, but he’s still adjusting to a different system than the one he played in college. He didn’t exactly have what you would call a “good” game last season and had his fair share of horrible outings. He wasn’t the worst player in the linebacking corps last season (that honor would be reserved for Kelvin Sheppard) but he’s going to be high on the depth chart in his second season.
Ryan Grigson hasn’t had the greatest of luck with his draft classes outside of 2012 (OK, there’s only been two others). The Colts really need Werner to turn into a quality player and one that eventually replaces Erik Walden (who needs to play better simply to live up to his contract).
With the preseason and four projected regular seasons starts, we should get a good idea of Werner’s ability early on this season. he should at least give the team better production that his rookie year.
On paper, this unit is terrifying. The Colts are relying on one quality player, one injury prone player, one overrated (and overpaid) player, and a complete unknown. They basically have to have an amazing pass rush to overcome these inadequacies.
The Colts had 42 sacks in 2013, good enough for 11th in the league but 19.5 of them came from Mathis. Without him for four games, the Colts will have to not only generate a pass rush but also play tight defense down field.
We could single out the starting corners, Greg Toler and Vontae Davis, but they have simple issues to overcome. Toler simply needs to remain healthy while Davis needs to live up to his new contract and become a more consistent player.
Landry was largely a disappointment last season. He had more bad games in 2013 than good ones and was particularly awful in the postseason loss to New England.
Landry missed four games last season, and following his return, he was a mess. It was easy to find him out of position and whiffing on tackles last season. Aside from the game against Jacksonville to close the regular season, didn’t have a single above average performance (and really, the Jaguars shouldn’t count).
Landry is currently making $6 million per year, and is in no way earning that contract. Landry needs to stop trying to deliver knockout blows and just make a play.
The Other Safety
Right now, Delano Howell has the inside track to be the team’s other starting safety. He only played in four games, and during that time showed promise. He wasn’t particularly bad or good and just average play would put him a step above Landry.
Veteran Mike Adams will also have a shot at starting opposite Landry. Adams had an up and down season for Denver last year. He wasn’t the starter till the halfway mark and while he never had back-to-back bad game, he didn’t string good ones together either. He is the definition of average.
Howell showed a lot of promise, but he severely lacks in experience. Adams has a wealth of experience, having played in the league for 10-years, but he is also 33 and on the downside of his career. This is an interesting positional battle that will hopefully produce a quality season long starter.