The Indianapolis Colts ranked 26th in defense in 2015. Will the narrative remain the same, or will things be vastly different for the unit with new coordinator Ted Monachino in 2016?
The Indianapolis Colts were atrocious on defense last season.
If you had watched any particular game in 2015, then you would have been able to see it. the Colts’ 26th-ranked defense allowed 379 yards per-game — 122 of those yards being rushing yards.
The ranking was vastly different from 2014, when the Colts owned the 11th-best defense in the NFL — the highest of the Chuck Pagano, Andrew Luck era.
2015 was a bizarre, 180-degree turn of a season from 2014. Not only did the team’s defense drop significantly down the rankings, but the Colts as a whole did.
Luck was absent for nine of the possible 16 games last year due to various injury, and the defense could’ve been compared to wet tissue paper — allowing anything and everything to break through.
Perhaps the Colts’ most stunning loss came late in the season when they took on the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars in an away bout, ultimately losing 51-16. Granted, Luck didn’t play in the game, but the defense played a large part in the blowout.
The mediocre season resulted in the firing of defensive coordinator Greg Manusky — who had been the defensive coordinator for the Colts since 2012.
The Colts would go on to hire former Baltimore Ravens linebacker’s coach Ted Monachino. Monachino had spent the past six years working with the Ravens’ linebacker position — working with some prominent names along the likes of Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs.
In Monachino’s six years in Baltimore, the Ravens finished in the top-10 in defense in four of those years. The hope is that he can do the same to a Colts defense that has lacked a true identity.
Monachino is up for the challenge with his new team, per Mike Wells of ESPN.com.
“I want them to look fast,” said Monachino. “I want them to look like they play together. I want them to look confident in each other, and I want them to look like they’re not afraid to make a huge play for us when we need to. I think we’ve set that foundation in the spring. I’m excited about where we are right now and can’t wait to get started tomorrow.”
The good news about the Colts’ defense is that they addressed their No. 2 cornerback issue — signing veteran Patrick Robinson to start alongside Vontae Davis. Robinson is arguably a big upgrade over former Colt Greg Toler.
The bad news is that the defensive line will be thin for the start of the season. Arthur Jones is suspended the first four games for violating the NFL’s PED policy, while rookie standout Henry Anderson is recovering from a torn ACL suffered midway through last season and expecting to miss some time as well.
The Colts also lost one of their best defensive talents in Jerrell Freeman — who signed with the Chicago Bears during free agency this past March.
The Colts may appear to not have made very many strides in improving their defense for the upcoming season, but that isn’t stopping Robert Mathis from being optimistic of what he sees.
“It’s a lot of tools we have in place,” said Mathis. “Guys are making big strides. We’re improving by leaps and bounds. I feel real good about what we have. It’s a lot of team defense. It’s not relying on one, two or three guys. It’s all 11 guys responsible for every position. Anything [Monachino] calls, everybody has to know what’s going on.”
Despite his age, Mathis recorded seven sacks in 2015 — tying Kendall Langford.
The Colts know what they have going for them on offense, now it’s time for the defense to step up and give the Colts the firepower needed to make big strides come 2016.
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