Jan 8, 2011; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis (98) flexes after they make the New York Jets punt the ball late in the fourth quarter during the 2011 AFC wild card playoff at Lucas Oil Stadium. New York defeats Indianapolis 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

A look at the 2012 Colts Defense. Part 1: The defensive line.

Feb 23, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano talks about the status of Peyton Manning (not pictured) at a press conference during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

After projecting the potential starting lineup of the 2012 Colts offense last week, this week I will look at the defensive side of the ball.  Change will be the staple of the Colts’ defense this season with new defensive-minded head coach Chuck Pagano, moving the Colts away from a 4-3 defensive scheme to a 3-4.  The Tampa 2 defense is a thing of the past in the Circle City. All I can say is hallelujah!

Without further ado, the potential 2012 Colts defense, starting with the defensive line:

NT- Nose tackle is one of the most important positions in a 3-4, if not the most important. The Colts were seemingly without a big-body guy to plug up the holes along the line before acquiring 6’2”, 345 pound monster Brandon McKinney through free agency.  McKinney should help the Colts shore up their porous run defense of recent years.  He joins from coach Pagano’s previous team, the Baltimore Ravens. Although McKinney’s play will not blow you away, he is undoubtedly a strong addition to the Colts’ defensive front.

DE1- This position will be filled by that of another former Baltimore Raven, Cory Redding.   Redding, in my opinion, is another great addition to the Colts defense this offseason and continues to solidify the Colts defensive line for Pagano’s hybrid 3-4. He plays the 3-technique especially well, which allows him to bring pressure. He is also an adequate run-stopper. My only real concern with Redding is that he’s at the backend of his career, which means he will need be replaced relatively quickly; nevertheless he helps the defensive transition into the 3-4.

Dec 13, 2010; Houston, TX, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive end Cory Redding (93) celebrates a sack against the Houston Texans in the second quarter at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

DE2- As the roster currently stands, I see Antonio Johnson as the most likely candidate to start here. That alone makes a good enough case to me for a draft pick to be used here. The Colts should use a pick, with the sole purpose of finding a player who can contribute instantly  and is a great fit in a 3-4. The second starting defensive end is a position that is quite likely to see a considerable amount of rotation. Other players who could figure here would be Fili Moala, who may be seen as more of a natural fit to backup Redding due to similarities in their strengths, or possibly Drake Nevis, who is not at all a good fit in Pagano’s new scheme. He was specifically drafted last year by the Polians due to his fit with the previous scheme.

With the acquisitions of Redding and Mckinney, the Colts have done well in finding player’s who fit the new system.   However the D-line is certainly an area where the Colts need help, especially at defensive end.  I would argue though, that with the Colts many needs, defensive line is not the highest on the list, so I don’t expect to see a pick used here any higher than the fourth round. All in all, expect to see the Colts improve, and become more stout against the run this season.


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Tags: Antonio Johnson Brandon McKinney Colts Cory Redding Fili Moala Indianapolis Colts

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