How the Loss of Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt Impacts the Indianapolis Colts

Robby HowardContributor IIISeptember 30, 2011

Brackett has been the Colts' defensive captain for the past five years.
Brackett has been the Colts' defensive captain for the past five years.Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Peyton Manning isn't the only captain who is hurt for the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts put defensive captains Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt on IR on Wednesday, putting them out for the remainder of the season.

People don't frequently think about this, but Brackett is the Peyton Manning of the defense. He, along with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, have been the constants on that side of the ball throughout the team's streak of success. Unlike Freeney and Mathis, though, Brackett calls all the plays for the defense.

Just like Manning knows the offense better than anyone else, Gary Brackett knows the defense better than anyone else.

Pat Angerer is a very promising linebacker and will undoubtedly lead the Colts in tackles this year, but the team probably didn't want him to go through a baptism of fire and have to throw him in there. While he did briefly fill in for Brackett last year, he could still use some practice alongside and guidance from the veteran before starting there for 14 games.

Meanwhile, injured safety Melvin Bullitt adds his name to the long line of injured safeties that have played in Indianapolis. It's tough to recall the last time the Colts didn't sustain a season-ending injury to one of their safeties since the Bob Sanders era.

It's very harsh to say, but Bullitt's situation is starting to look a lot like Sanders'. He played in just four games last year, and only three games this year. It's still too early to say, and Bullitt is a great player, but the Colts let Sanders go because he couldn't stay on the field. You don't want to see that happen to Bullitt, too.

The Colts are already without their leader. Without Brackett and Bullitt, it will be really tough on the defense. Behind Freeney and Mathis, that side of the ball is very young. When Manning went out, the burden shifted to the defense to step up and play big as it did in the Pittsburgh game. However, without these two captains, it will be tough for this defense to sustain that level of play throughout the season.

It continues to look as if things are getting bleaker and bleaker for the Colts, as the team has now lost its heart and soul on both sides of the ball.

The good news? Things really can't get any worse from here.