INDIANAPOLIS – It was the biggest disappointment of the Colts 2020 season.
When you stop the run like the Colts did last season (2nd in run defense) and have a presence at defensive tackle like DeForest Buckner, your edge rushing group should reap those benefits.
Instead, the Colts were underwhelming when it came to creating edge pressure.
Justin Houston, who is a free agent at the age of 32, had 8.0 sacks last season, but his 12 quarterback hits told more of the whole story. Houston admitted to having a down year last season, and it’s the lack of consistent pressure as to why. Houston’s 12 QB hits ranked tied for 63rd in the NFL last season.
Behind Houston, former 2nd round draft picks Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu failed to emerge.
Turay’s comeback from a serious ankle injury kept him to playing in just 8 games. He had a total of 1 sack and 3 quarterback hits, all of which came against the Jaguars in the regular season finale. Following the season, Chris Ballard mentioned Turay wasn’t all the way back from his ankle injury.
Banogu was a healthy scratch in nearly half of the games. He didn’t record a single sack or quarterback hit in the 9 games he did play in.
For these reasons, the Colts face a question in the present, and future, at pass rusher off the edge.
Not only is Houston a free agent, but so is Al-Quadin Muhammad (age 26) and Denico Autry (age 30), who has played some pass rush snaps outside, too.
Under Matt Eberflus, this defense has taken some important strides over three seasons. But the lack of consistent edge pressure, particularly with what they are doing in other parts of the defense listed above, remains an issue.
It has contributed to numerous big passing days from the game’s better passing offenses. The old adage of how to disrupt timing is something the Colts have struggled with. More pressure up front would help in that area.
The Colts have resources in place to try and address this weakness, and some answers are (surprisingly) there in free agency and even the draft.
For this defense to be one that can thrive, and not just survive, against the league’s better offenses, a higher rate of pressure off the edge is needed.