Indianapolis Colts: Defense Still a Problem

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistAugust 23, 2012

Bethea holds the Colts together.
Bethea holds the Colts together.Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

With all the justified hype and accolades tossed at the feet of Andrew Luck, it would be tempting to pick the Colts as a sleeper team in the in AFC South.

That would be a mistake.

The Colts are well on the way to solving problems on the offensive side of the football, but they have serious issues to work out on defense.

Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson have worked tirelessly to reshape the Colts both in terms of scheme and personnel, but a quick scan of the progress reveals just how far they still have to go.

The Colts defense is still a work in progress on three major fronts.


Injuries Hurt

The Colts have been nicked up a lot in the first few weeks of the season. With Cory Redding, Pat Angerer and Robert Mathis all having to come out of games, Indianapolis is already seeing its thin talent base stretched.

The loss of Angerer is especially troubling. While he is expected back after missing maybe a month of the regular season, that's exactly the stretch of games the Colts can possibly find some wins.

The schedule only gets harder after the bye week, and if Indy doesn't score early victories, it could be a long season indeed.

Redding's continued injuries also portend bad things for the Colts. He's not a young player, and hoping he'll fill a role as a 16-game starter is probably not realistic. He isn't likely to miss much time with his knee sprain, but there isn't much depth behind him either.

Other than Angerer, none of the injuries have been serious, but each time someone goes down, it reveals just what is waiting to replace them. The Colts have been among the most injury prone teams in football in recent years. With most of the same players back, it's not likely that changes in 2012.

The Colts simply aren't deep enough to overcome multiple significant injuries, and they've already had their first.


Where's the Pressure?

Through two preseason games, the Colts have a total of five sacks, all by backups. Jerry Hughes has three of those sacks. Considering that they came against two of the worst pass protecting teams in football, that's got to be a concern.

Five sacks in two games (a pace of 40 in an season) is nothing to sneeze at, but until they come against starters, there's reason to concern.

For all the attention given to how the Colts' revamped attack would invigorate Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, there hasn't been much evidence that they are getting to the quarterback either in camp or in the preseason to date. Forget about sack numbers, the Colts have rarely been in the face of opposing starters.

Hits on Ben Roethlisberger ought to be as plentiful as virgins at GenCon, but the Colts starters barely breathed on him.

The Colts defense desperately needs pressure in order to cover up for the one glaring weakness on the team, and the third point of this article.


Cornering the Market on Corners

Grigson has been scouring the NFL to find viable corners to line up alongside Jerraud Powers, and his most recent deal for Rams corner Josh Gordy (per team press release sent to Bleacher Report) is further evidence that the Colts don't feel settled at the position.

Cassius Vaughn has fallen down the depth chart after being acquired in the offseason. Justin King rated as one of the worst corners in football last year, but then again, so did Gordy. D.J. Johnson and Korey Lindsay have a combined total of 10 NFL games between them.

Powers is a quality player, but has battled injuries from his rookie year on. Should he go down again, the Colts will be running a string of castoffs out to defend offenses like New England and Green Bay.

Training camp has come and gone, and the preseason is half over. Indianapolis is no closer to finding an answer than it was in July.

Without a viable second corner, let alone a third or fourth, it won't matter how many points Luck hangs on the scoreboard, the Colts will still struggle to win ball games.


Pagano is a fine defensive coach, and Grigson is committed to turning over the roster in Indianapolis. Defense took a back seat to offense in the offseason, as it should.

With no evidence of any improvement at all coming for the Indy defense, that sleeper pick will have to slumber just a little longer.