After Strong Finish Last Year, Colts Pass Rush Eager For 2016 Opportunity

Intro: Over the final six games of 2015, no NFL team had more sacks than the Indianapolis Colts. Why did the Colts have so much late season success in getting after the quarterback?

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INDIANAPOLIS – Brad White knows the numbers and how they correlate to people's opinion of his position group.

As the Colts outside linebackers coach, White leads the position most closely associated with the number every defense is judged on (along with points and turnovers).

Sacks.

Last year, the Colts finished 22nd in the NFL in sacks (35 on the season).

White knows the teams ranked 22 and below all missed the playoffs.

But talk to White about getting after the quarterback in 2016 and the excitement is obvious.

There's another number White points to, one that has him almost giddy for the 2016 season to arrive.

In the final six games of 2015, no team in the NFL had more sacks than the Colts.

Yes, the Colts led the NFL with 21 sacks over the final six weeks of the 2015 season.

Why such an uptick in pressure on quarterbacks down the stretch?

White points to a healthy Robert Mathis and just a general continuity throughout the guys in charge of making things uneasy for the opposing signal caller.

"It's not you just throw pass rushers on the field and you say go hunt," White says of scheming a pass rush. "There has to be a feel and a timing to themselves.

"I think they started to get that. You start to understand who you are playing with. (Late in 2015) no one was rushing the passer like we were. It's something people don't think about but it's there and having that continuity and personnel going into this year is going to really pay dividends."

As White looks ahead to 2016, he knows the randomness that often comes with predicting sacks.

In 2014, the Buffalo Bills led the NFL in sacks. In 2015, with the same starting front four returning, the Bills finished 31st in sacks.

With the Colts trying to turn their six-game end of the season run into an entire slate this year, they will once again lean on 13-year veteran Robert Mathis.

The 35-year-old Mathis is embarking on a totally different offseason schedule this year. Completely healthy, Mathis still displays a "twist and burst" that White has witnessed even in individual drills this offseason.

This offseason, White's group has also added the rare size of Earl Okine (6-6 and 290 pounds) along with several intriguing rookies.

It's the question of the offseason for the Colts' defense.

Can that unit become one applying consistent pressure from September...through January…and maybe even into February?

"No one in our group will make excuses for the sack production of last year," White says. "It is what it is. They are what they are. When you look over the last half of the season (though), we were as productive as any team in the NFL getting after the quarterback.

"Now that they've got a year playing together, now you bring in the mix of the new guys that we have, you bring in Earl, it's a great mix. I said going into the draft, I think we've got enough. Now with the three young guys, we've got more than enough."

A behind the scenes look at the Colts field work during Phase II of the off-season workout.

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