Last season, the Indianapolis Colts had one of the worst defenses in the history of the franchise. The Colts were an embarrassing 30th in total defense: ranking 25th against the run and 27th against the pass.
Pro Football Focus ranked the front 7 as the worst in the NFL, with the highest rated player being Edwin Jackson, and the lowest was former Colt Erik Walden. According to Pro Football Focus, the Colts pressured opposing quarterbacks a league low 25% of drop backs.
In order to improve upon that, the Colts not only are changing the look of the team with new players, they are also hoping to change the culture from soft, to big and physical against the run, and in getting to the quarterback.
To springboard that change, look no further than the signings of Jonathon Hankins (formerly played with the Giants), John Simon, Jabaal Sheard, Jon Bostic, and Sean Spence. Right there alone is potentially 5 new starters in the front 7 alone, pairing that with a healthy Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford, the Colts defense should be much better alone because of the upgraded talent on the field.
Jonathon Hankins is a load up front, and can be the anchor this Colts defense has missed since Pagano came to town in 2012. His presence alone will bolster a run defense which was atrocious in nearly every facet. Hankins taking on blocks will also allow for the linebackers to shoot gaps better and make stops behind the line of scrimmage.
John Simon and Jabaal Sheard are being brought in to set an edge in the run game, and get after the quarterback on 3rd down. Neither have been in a primary role on a defense before, but both have played parts on top level NFL defenses in the league. Sheard is a former 2nd round pick by the Browns, and last year received a grade of 78 from PFF. John Simon has been a major member of the Houston Texans that last few years, received a solid grade of 77.
Inside the Colts upgraded tremendously in signing Jon Bostic and Sean Spence. Both are proven veterans that have been solid players for many years. Spence was one of the best run stoppers in the league last year for the Titans, grading out the 3rd best in the NFL.
However the key to the front 7 for the Colts is 3rd year defensive lineman Henry Anderson. Anderson is coming off of a disappointing season after never fully being back to normal from an ACL injury he suffered in his promising rookie season. Even though battling injury, Henry Anderson still logged some impressive stats in a limited role last season. In only 308 snaps, Anderson was able to pressure the qb 15 times, registering 11 stops, and even batting down a few passes. As a rookie Henry Anderson came on the scene very strong, constantly applying qb pressure, batting passes, and getting an impressive 23 stops. Before the injury, Anderson was considered a potential defensive rookie of the year in the AFC, leaving Colts fans drooling at the potential of this young stud defender.
Fulfilling that potential would give the Colts a more than capable 3 down defensive lineman. Pairing him with the new
Staying on the field healthy is a must for Anderson this season, and very important to the Colts if they wish to improve. The added talent and hopefully healthy returns for Anderson and Langford should bolster the Colts defense, which will look nothing like last season despite being commonly ranked as the worst going into the 2017 season.