PHOTO: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady passes under pressure from Indianapolis Colts end Dwight Freeney (93) in the first quarter on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2004, in Foxboro, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Colts Defense; Not as Good as Advertised
By Chris Goodhue, Site Contributor
In the past few weeks, some national pundits have praised the defense of the Indianapolis Colts for leading the AFC in sacks with 48 and picking off 20 passes (including playoffs). However, what they wont tell you is that 8 of those sacks and 4 picks have come in the 4th quarter of games in which they were already leading by 17 points heading into the 4th, and against mediocre teams at best (Houston, Chicago, Detroit, Tennessee, and Denver in the Wild Card game). Its easy enough to pick off Craig Krenzel as it is, but when you know hes throwing on every down, you might as well stick Fat Albert in your secondary and be pleased with the results. Lets take some time and get a more in-depth look at this defense.
Dwight Freeney is a great player and a topnotch pass rusher. With that being said, 13 of his league leading 16 sacks have come in the comfort of indoor football. Freeney is a speed guy who has played indoors since his days back at Syracuse and thrives on solid footing. In last seasons AFC Championship game, Freeney was held to just one tackle while playing in the snowstorm. If the weather again becomes inclement, he may be less of a factor, especially when a double-team is employed. He could also be neutralized by the running game, as he was 30th among AFC defensive linemen in tackles with just 33.
Colts Rush Defense
The rushing defense of the Colts is fairly anemic. They have given up an AFC-high 4.6 yards per carry as well as over 2000 yards on the ground for the season. Bend but dont break you say? Theyve allowed 5 100-yard rushing performances (Chris Brown (2), Priest Holmes, Domanick Davis, and Jamal Lewis). Theyve also allowed 11 runs of 20 yards or more and 12 TDs. Should the small OLBs of the Colts, Cato June (60, 227 lbs.) and David Thornton (62 230 lbs.) chase down Corey Dillon (61, 220 lbs.) they could have a rude awakening as Dillon should have no problem breaking them with a multitude of stiff-arms and serious leg drive.
The Swiss-cheese pass defense of Indianapolis is no picnic either. If possession-passing is your game, youre in luck. The Colts allowed opposing QBs to complete a whopping 65.4% of passes, last in the AFC. Throw that number in with over 3800 yards and 26 TDs allowed, and youve got yourself a defense worthy of being mentioned among sieves like Oakland and Kansas City. Opponents hung 5 300-yard passing days on them (Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Byron Leftwich (2), and Trent Green). The Colts have a relatively young secondary, as not one defensive back on the roster has served more than 4 years in the league, and their play surely shows that. Tom Brady traditionally scorches this group (9 TDs vs. 4 INTs in 5 career games) and Sunday will probably be no different.
Chris Goodhue has been running fantasy football and baseball teams since 1999 with one title to his credit. He can usually be found at a local Boston area sports bar settling arguments of sports history, but in case you can't find him send your questions and feedback to cgoodhue in the Insider Forums
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