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Defense Improvement Major Off-Season Focus For Colts

Intro: With the Colts now entrenched into the 2017 offseason, a clear area for improvement lies on the defensive side of the ball. In what areas must the Colts get better defensively?


INDIANAPOLIS – It was something Chuck Pagano acknowledged in his final press conference following the 2016 season.

The defensive questions that the Colts faced coming into 2016 were still largely unanswered going into 2017.

"We've got work to do," Pagano said in his season-ending presser earlier this month.

"Again, that falls on me. You guys know my background and everybody knows my background and we've fallen short (defensively)."

The most glaring stat that stained the Colts defensively this year came from the yards allowed.

The 382.9 yards per game allowed by the Colts last year, the second most in franchise history, ranked 30th in the NFL. The only teams behind the Colts in YPG given up in 2016 were the Browns (1-15) and 49ers (2-14).

Along with the inability to get offenses off the field, the Colts lacked the game-changing plays on defense.

The Colts forced just 17 turnovers this past year, tied for the 6th fewest in the NFL. Of the five teams with fewer takeaways than the Colts in 2016, four of them will draft in the top six spots of next year's NFL Draft.

Constant changing in personnel certainly played a factor in the Colts' defensive struggles.

Defensive coordinator Ted Monachino wasn't able to pinpoint why his unit was not better in his first season in Indianapolis.

"You scratch around and try to find some things," Monachino said near the end of the 2016 season. "I think that inconsistency in our lineup has been a problem. Even with our healthy guys, at times it seems like the best thing to do is get a different guy in there for a certain situation and then that guy that we've inserted hasn't had a lot of experience communicating with the guys that are already out there, so that gets tough.

"Those injuries happen all over the league and we've got to find a way to overcome them and play sound defense. We haven't done a good enough job at that, but I think that our guys have been resilient. They've been determined and they've worked hard to correct our issues. Our issues are our issues and we have to continue to put them into the best position to make some plays. That's what we spend the hours we spend here trying to do."

Those hours have now sprinkled into the offseason, where the self-scouting has begun.

Just how different the Colts defense will look in 2017 could be rather significant.

Outside of Vontae Davis, the Colts really don't have a locked in returning starter on defense.

There are questions regarding possible position changes (i.e. Clayton Geathers or a T.J. Green), re-signing free agents (i.e. Mike Adams, Darius Butler and Erik Walden) and injuries (i.e. Kendall Langford and Geathers) impacting the 2017 outlook on defense.

The Colts do have cap room and nearly a full stock of draft picks to seek out needed personnel changes.

Finding difference makers at inside/outside linebacker, settling on a starting secondary and further building the defensive line depth tasks the Colts with several challenges in the coming months.

"I'm accountable and I can accept that responsibility," Pagano says of the defensive shortcomings.

"Again, we'll look at everybody, evaluate everything that we have done, evaluate where we're at and see how we can improve."

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