Why Yannick Ngakoue Sees Himself Flourishing With Colts – And In Reunion With Gus Bradley

Ngakoue had 10 sacks with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021 and is one of three players to have eight or more sacks in each of the last six seasons. 

Yannick Ngakoue said his hellos and made his introductions around the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on Thursday, one day after the Colts acquired the veteran defensive end in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders.

But amid a long day of getting-to-know-you conversations, one guy he didn't have to introduce himself to was defensive coordinator Gus Bradley – who will coach Ngakoue for a third time in a third different city.

From Jacksonville to Las Vegas to Indianapolis, Ngakoue has a deep appreciation for Bradley not only as a defensive mind, but as a person.

"One thing that I love about coach Gus is I've seen him when things are good and I've seen him when things are bad and he's the same guy," Ngakoue said. "It's hard to find people like that. That's somebody I would love to play for, God willing, for the rest of my career — be a Colt for the rest of my career."

Ngakoue began his career playing for Bradley with the Jaguars, and last year ripped off 10 sacks in Bradley's defense with the Raiders. He's one of three players to have eight or more sacks in each of the last six seasons; he's one of five players to have at least eight sacks in each of his first six seasons in the NFL.

One of Ngakoue's 10 sacks in 2021 came against the Colts in Week 17 – a game in which offensive lineman Matt Pryor, who signed a contract extension with the Colts on Wednesday, started at left tackle.

"He's up there, man," Pryor said. "He has a high motor, he's pretty quick off the edge and he's one of those guys you never know what kind of move he's gonna give to you.

"... I feel like any elite end or D-tackle, they have different moves in their arsenal to combat an offensive lineman and set up their next move. That's something he brings to the table."

Those traits feel like an ideal fit for the way with which Bradley and defensive line coach Nate Ollie want their pass rushers to play.

"We talk about, take that seat belt off," Ollie said. "That's how we're gonna play, right. You talk about how we're gonna to play, we're gonna take that seat belt off, we're taking the thinking out and we are attacking.

"I am a train on my track and I'm ready to go — like, you get on my track, you get messed up."

Ngakoue met with Ollie on Thursday and said he's excited to play under that directive.

"I feel like it fits me really well, being able to have great explosion off the ball," Ngakoue said. "He's basically allowing me to be able to flourish with the talent I have."

While Ngakoue sees himself flourishing with Bradley and Ollie, he hopes to help second-year defensive end Kwity Paye flourish, too. Ngakoue and Paye know each other already, and Ngakoue said he's looking forward to lending whatever expertise he can to help Paye grow in Year 2.

"He has really, really, really good tools to be able to be special," Ngakoue said. "... Anything he needs, I'm here for him."

And one other thing about Ngakoue – he's a big fan of Robert Mathis, and as a 6-foot-2, 246 pound defensive end appreciates what the 6-foot-2, 245 pound Mathis did in his Hall-of-Fame-worthy career in Indianapolis. Ngakoue, who also has 20 forced fumbles in his career, hopes to carry on that tradition.

"What excites me is it doesn't matter about your size – here, it's all about production, you know what I'm saying?" Ngakoue said. "And certain places look for certain sizes of defensive ends, defensive tackles, things of that nature but at the end fo the day it's football. I feel like this is a great, great spot for guys of my size to be able to flourish. What a blessing."

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