After the first 4 weeks of the season, John Simon looked primed to become the stalwart of this Colts defense. Simon (now on IR with a torn ACL) was playing really well and other than flashes of Malik Hooker no one else was playing at least above average football.
Fast forward four Weeks and the narrative has changed. The Colts are still a weak team, with just three wins, against bottom tier opponents. Still, the Colts have shown that there is talent on the defensive side of the ball, enough talent to form a competent defense with proper coaching and a few more pieces. The last weeks have seen players emerge, such as Rashaan Melvin, who has become a top 10 cornerback; Nate Hairston, who is becoming a great situational player, and could develop into a really solid slot cornerback; Henry Anderson is showing flashes of the potential he had as a third rounder and Jon Bostic is playing his heart out and improving steadily every week. Still, the best player on this new Colts defense has to be Jabaal Sheard.
After signing a 3 year contract worth $25.5 million, with only $10 million of those guaranteed, Sheard was expected to recover his play of the 2015 Season and develop into a solid starter for the Colts defense. After struggling a bit at the beginning of the season, Sheard seems to have found his groove and is now being able to constantly set the edge and be productive, both against the rush and against the pass. Sheard has now 4.5 sacks, leading the team, he has forced 2 fumbles (one a game sealing play against the Texans last week) and is currently ranked #10 by Pro Football Focus among all edge defenders. Sheard is currently ranked above players such as Justin Houston and Jadeveon Clowney and is just below Joey Bosa.
If Sheard can continue playing like this, once Simon returns from his injury, they will form a really good outside linebacker duo. The Colts will have to edge players that are consistently making plays on the backfield and applying pressure to the quarterback.
Sheard and Simon have easily being Ballards’ best signings this offseason, coming at extremely reasonable prices. Both Sheard and Simon are locked up for two more seasons after this one and with this type of quality at such a low price, the Colts can afford to go for even better players on this years free agency.
Sheard is surely one of the Colts few bright spots this season. But beware, because this defense is slowly coming along, with Sheard and many others; and with a head coach that can actually coach a defense, this players will show that the talent is actually there. The pieces of the puzzle are here, sure, there are a few missing, but the Colts just need a guy at the helm that can solve this puzzle out.
Thanks for reading and, as always, Go Colts!