The Indianapolis Colts are a team that has a Super Bowl-ready roster. Once they find their quarterback, he will be paired with an offense ripe with young skill players. Indy’s defense is a ferocious unit led by All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard.
Leonard’s mentality has given the Colts defense a new identity. The team will be looking to add even more talented pieces via free agency, which starts in about a month. Leonard has a few rules for anybody interested in joining the team, especially defensive players.
Darius Leonard demands three things from potential Colts players
One thing that can be said about the Colts defense is that they play with intense effort. The team demands it from every player, even keep track of plays players take-off during games.
Darius Leonard is the enforcer of the effort required, ensuring he and his teammates are playing with maximum effort. He warns free agents that their name and status don’t matter when they sign with Indy. They better be ready to play a bruising style of defense.
“Free agents!! If y’all are thinking about coming to the Colts and play defense, just know that we don’t want you if you don’t play hard, run to the ball, make plays, or not willing to sacrifice yourself for ya teammate to make the play! Don’t care how big or little ya name is!” said Leonard via Twitter.
Leonard is the unquestioned leader on this defense, making his words stronger. He didn’t get his nickname “Maniac” just because. He plays like a maniac on the field, covering sideline to sideline and making big plays. Indy’s defense took a huge step forward last season and won’t let a free agent with the wrong mindset ruin it.
The Colts defense is a solid unit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to improve. Now that Darius Leonard has announced his rules for free agents, what positions should the Colts address when free agency begins? There are a couple of spots that could use an upgrade on Indy’s defense.
What are some of the Colts’ defensive needs?
Heading into the offseason, the Colts need to address some issues they have on defense—one of these issues being on the edge. Indy acquired DeForest Buckner to hold down the interior, but now they need to sign an edge rusher to pressure the quarterback.
The free-agent market will have some talented pass rushers available. Yannick Ngakoue could a potential answer for Indy. He had a difficult season, being traded multiple times. He has shown that he can be elite when he’s in the right situation. Tak Mckinley is another edge rusher who will be looking for a new home. Bud Dupree could be a free agent if the Steelers let him walk.
Another area the Colts must address is in the secondary. The cornerback position struggled last year, especially late in the season. Kenny Moore II and Xavier Rhodes played well, but it wasn’t strong behind those two. Rock Ya-Sin struggled, being the defender quarterbacks picked on during a game. The cornerback free agent market isn’t that plentiful, so Indy might have to address this need through the draft.
The Colts’ needs on defense are important but not extensive. Much of their core is set to return for 2021, which is an excellent thing for this defense. If they can add the right pieces and improve the players they already have, they can have an even better season than 2020. Last year, the Colts defense was one of the best defensive units in the NFL.
Darius Leonard and the Indianapolis Colts defense played lights out in 2020
If the Colts could capture the defensive excellence they displayed in 2020 in a bottle; they should. They were playing out of their minds, shutting down their opponents with ease. Indy allowed 22.6 points per game, the tenth fewest in the NFL last year per ESPN. Where the unit really excelled was defending the run. Very few teams found success running against Indianapolis in 2020.
The Colts relinquished 90.5 yards per game last year. That is the second-fewest yards allowed in the league. They were only one of five teams to hold their opponents to under 100 rushing yards last season. Credit Darius Leonard for having his squad ready to fly to the ball and filling gaps. Their pass defense wasn’t as elite as their run defense, ranking twentieth, allowing 241 yards a game.
They might give up a lot of yards through the air, but they do get interceptions. They intercepted the ball 15 times in 2020, ninth-most in the NFL. Their 25 total turnovers were fifth-most in the league last season. The Colts defense was above average last year and could get even better if they sign quality free agents.
If any free agents want to join the Indianapolis Colts, they should refer to Darius Leonard’s Twitter account. He and the defense won’t welcome anyone who isn’t going to give maximum effort and ready to sacrifice for their teammates. The Colts defensive leader has spoken, and incoming free agents should consider his words before signing the dotted line.
Stats courtesy of ESPN