Tim Warner | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – Jabaal Sheard was easily the most consistent and disruptive front 7 player for the Colts last season.
Sheard finished his first year with the Colts having posted 5.5 sacks (including a game-clincher in Houston). But diving deeper into Sheard’s numbers shows he was even more productive than just your basic sack numbers.
Per Pro Football Focus, Sheard had the 13th most pressures in the league last year (66) and was 4th in total run stops (30) among edge defenders.
Those effective numbers, against the run and pass, are impressive and offer one of the few glimmers of hope from last year’s major defensive struggles.
But Sheard isn’t up for hearing too much about them.
“We finished as one of the worst teams in the league,” Sheard said to Colts.com earlier this spring. “No matter how you played individually, we’ve got to be better.
“Everyone knows that, unless you want change again.”
Things have changed pretty substantially on the defensive side of the ball for the Colts.
Sheard and his teammates are immersed in learning a new 4-3 system.
It’s been a while since Sheard, an 8-year veteran, played in a 4-3.
The former second-round pick in 2011 points out the ‘dummied’ down defense in which his switch to a hand in the dirt defensive end will gladly remove him from coverage responsibilities.
“It’s about guys up front creating penetration and just making it (cleaner) for the linebackers,” Sheard says. “It’s not going to be your (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis back in the day but hopefully we can work to that point where we get some pass rushers and get after the quarterback. We won’t be them, but hopefully something like them, being aggressive and getting after quarterbacks and running backs in the backfield.”
Last season, the Colts finished the year with a mere 26 sacks—the fewest for the team in more than a decade.
What has followed in the aftermath of missing the playoffs for a third straight season?
New coaches. New schemes. New personnel.
“If you don’t win,” Sheard reiterates, “things change.”