Many changes are occurring this upcoming season to the Indianapolis Colts defense from last year. Between player turn-over, schematic additions, talent, and just having the same defensive coordinator for the second straight year, fans should expect an improvement of play on the defensive side of the ball in 2019.
That being said, don’t be surprised if the Colts actually drop in the overall rankings at season’s end. Indy had the 11th ranked overall defense at the end of last season, and even though they have gotten better overall as stated above, I expect that ranking to drop a few spots. And once you look at the schedule, it is easy to understand why.
Last year, they played much better talent at running back, than we did at quarterback and wide receiver. This season, it is reversed. They go from the QB’s like Ryan Tannehill, Derek Anderson, and Alex Smith, to Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and Patrick Mahomes. The secondary also gets to cover the best wide receivers in the game: Hopkins (every year), Thomas, Jones, and Mike Evans.
This is a passing league now, QB’s and WR’s run the yardage stats in games. And even though the Colts added some talent to the DB room, the talent they play against this year is astronomically more impressive than last season.
But don’t get me wrong, I actually have the Colts winning more than 10 games this season, and possibly getting the 2nd seed in the playoffs. But many of the wins will come due to the Colts being so well balanced as a team overall.
They play a bevy of imposing offenses in 2019. But there is something these offenses mostly lack, that Indy can clamp down on: The running game.
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Last year, Indy played some of the best running backs the NFL had to offer, and they never allowed a 100-yard rusher. Ending up 8th in the NFL in yards on the ground allowed per game, and 6th, allowing only 3.9 yards per carry. This was VERY impressive considering they played the like of Elliot, Barkley, Peterson, just to name a few.
This year, the level of backs they will face will be Gordon, McCaffrey, and Freeman. Good running backs to be sure, but none have the fear that guy’s the Colts faced last year put into teams.
I feel Indy’s run defense may actually be a lot higher on the rankings at season’s end. Top 5 possibly, especially considering they added some very fast talent in the front 7. This is why the Colts win games, they can take away the run, and make teams one dimensional (sounds so odd saying that after the defenses they’ve had in previous years). But that dimension does, in fact, lead into the strengths of many teams the Colts face.
Yes the Colts kept basically the entire defense save a couple from last season, and then added some key pieces in the draft and free agency, and on top of that, this will be the second season under Matt Eberflus’ scheme. With the talent and familiarity the players have with Eberflus, He should be able to add a few more wrinkles to that defense that was ranked 11th in the NFL just a season ago.
But even with all the signs saying the Colts defense should play better this year, the talent they face is also much greater. The Chiefs, Falcons, Chargers, Saints, Steelers, and others have very good passing attacks. And I foresee them being forced to use these passing attacks due to Indy’s offense being top 10 as well. With lesser talent on the ground, and more through the air, these teams will be desperately throwing the ball just to keep up with Luck and companies points output.
So even though I truly believe the Colts team as a whole is better, I do believe the end of season ranking won’t reflect that. But honestly, the only ranking at the end of the season that truly matters is who is at the top of the mountain, hoisting the Lombardi trophy.