In his second year with the Colts, DeForest Buckner continued to prove himself as one of the best, most disruptive interior defensive linemen in the NFL. The 27-year-old earned his way to the second Pro Bowl of his career by leading the Colts in sacks (seven), QB hits (18), total pressures (49) and tackles for a loss (10).
And Buckner did all that while facing as high a double team rate as any interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
Check out how far to the right Buckner is on that graph. And for what it's worth, while this graph shows Buckner had a league-average pass rush win rate, Pro Football Focus had him at a 15 percent pass rush win rate – seventh among defensive tackles.
The point: Buckner was disruptive and productive while facing double teams on about two-thirds of the snaps he played.
"He's getting double-teamed all the time," head coach Frank Reich said in November.
Buckner played 844 snaps – fourth-most on the Colts and ninth-most among NFL defensive linemen in 2021. And he showed a remarkable ability to keep his production high despite the physical challenge of playing so much – and the mental challenge of being double-teamed on so many of those snaps.
"He's going to get some attention because obviously, he's a wrecker in there," defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. "The biggest thing we tell him is to not get frustrated, to just keep working and that's what he does."
Buckner, too, was voted a team captain and has become one of the team's most trusted voices since arriving in Indianapolis nearly two years ago. Few players in the NFL have as big an impact as Buckner does both on and off the field – which is why he earned a spot in Las Vegas for the 2022 Pro Bowl.
"I think (leadership) comes naturally – you can't force anything that you're not and just because I know the type of role I'm supposed to have, you don't go out of your way, you gotta do this, you gotta do that," Buckner said. "I'm just an open book. It doesn't matter who you are, if you've been on the team, if you're new to the team, if we just picked you up this week, I'm going to always be there to be an open book."
Snaps From The Season
They Said It
"You know how well he's playing based on how other teams game plan against him." - Head Coach Frank Reich