D’Qwell Jackson is a difference-maker, and now, he’s an Indianapolis Colt.
After a disappointing year from Pat Angerer, the supposed middle linebacker of the future, the Colts went into desperation mode this off season to find a leader at linebacker behind the line.
And they went and acquired one of the biggest names in the game.
Jackson, formerly a standout as the anchor for a stout Cleveland Browns defense, instantly upgrades the somewhat weak middle linebacking core of the Colts. While Jerrell Freeman has cemented his starting job after two solid years at the position, the depth underneath him looks shoddy. Mario Harvey and Kelvin Sheppard looked bad in spot duty last year, while Josh McNary and Andrew Jackson are still unproven at the NFL level. Jackson’s experience and consistency will bring a strong dynamic to a Colts defense that could use a little push.
In 2013, Jackson put up a combined 141 tackles along with 1.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble at interior linebacker for the Browns. Despite the stellar numbers, Jackson’s 2013 could still be considered a down year compared to past seasons with the Browns. In 2008, he led the NFL with 154 tackles on the year and has logged at least 100 tackles in five seasons of his seven-year career.
Possibly Jackson’s largest contribution to the Colts is his consistency in his performance and his participation. Jackson is on a streak of three 16-game seasons (starting every game) and hasn’t been caught much by the injury bug. Jackson also has been shown to have endurance; he played every defensive snap but one for the Browns last season. Jackson is also an extremely balanced player who brings talent in run-stopping and pass coverage, allowing Jerrell Freeman to focus more on stopping the run game (one of the Colts’ weakest areas in 2013).
Since Chuck Pagano and Greg Manusky took over in Indianapolis, bringing the 3-4 defense with them, the Colts haven’t been able to start two quality middle linebackers. While Angerer was solid for a season, he could never find a way to stay dominant in the new defense. Freeman has been a quality interior linebacker for the Colts in both seasons that he’s been with the team, posting +125 tackles in both seasons. He will benefit greatly with some help next to him from D’Qwell Jackson to help with interior pass coverage.
There were a lot of problems on defense in Indianapolis last year, put on display for the world to see against the Patriots in a dreadful loss. D’Qwell Jackson has been brought in to fix the exact problem that torched the Colts in that game: a quality back who passes the line of scrimmage. Freeman was excellent, but he was a lone man out there in Foxborough, trying to tackle LeGarrette Blount on every play. Along with the pickup of Ravens standout Arthur Jones, the Jackson signing should instantly improve a defense that looked weak.
Indianapolis has the big-play defensive guys down. Robert Mathis always gets that highlight-reel sack, LaRon Landry can make jarring tackles and even Erik Walden and Cory Redding provide entertainment on the line.
But with D’Qwell Jackson, the consistency that Colts fans have longed for is finally leading the defense.