Colts Believe Defensive Change Will Aid Pass Rush
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INDIANAPOLIS – Will a change in defensive scheme be enough for the woeful pass rush of the Indianapolis Colts to improve?
That’s the hope.
The Colts, while playing in a 3-4 scheme last season, finished the year with just 25 sacks---the fewest for the franchise in a decade. Only the Buccaneers had fewer sacks than the Colts in 2017.
Chris Ballard believes that the move to a 4-3 system, with pass rushers now having their hand in the ground more often will aid things in the pressure department.
“There are few people that can really get off the ball in a two-point stance (aka standing up in a 3-4 system),” Ballard says. “It’s hard to do. It’s much easier when you’re in a three-point stance (aka with a hand in the ground in a 4-3 defense).
“They start the 100 meters in the Olympics out of the blocks. They don’t start standing it. So it’s harder to rush from a two-point than it is a three-point stance. I think it’s going to benefit those (defensive ends).”
From a personnel standpoint, the Colts didn’t make wholesale changes to the pass rushing department this offseason.
They added Denico Autry (5.0 sacks as a reserve defensive end in Oakland), but are moving him to the interior.
They drafted Kemoko Turay at defensive end, but his instant impact sack numbers are hard to project after limited production in the Big Ten.
After the spring, the Colts have returnees in Jabaal Sheard (5.5 sacks last season) and Tarell Basham (2.0 sacks) as their starting defensive ends.
That means a large onus of the pass rushing pressure is falling on them.
Ballard thinks the change in scheme will greatly benefit the duo.
“I think they’re both ideal,” Ballard says of the new fit into a 4-3. “I think Jabaal Sheard will take off in this defense. Jabaal is a good football player. He played in the 4-3 early in his career in Cleveland.
“And Basham, that’s what he was. Really, you’re doing the projection more for the 3-4 out of college because most of those guys have never stood up. And I thought you saw that transition with Basham last year. He struggled early, but then you started seeing the [flashes]. Putting his hand in the dirt is what he did in college. Let him get off the football and disrupt---is what he was really good at in college."
The change in scheme brings the Colts back to their 4-3 days under Tony Dungy.
It’s music to the ears of current assistant (and the franchise’s all-time sack leader) Robert Mathis.
“I think we are the best kept secret,” Mathis said of his defensive line position group.
They need that to happen after another season void of pressure.