Issues With Pass Rush, Zone Recognition For Colts Defense

Issues With Pass Rush, Zone Recognition For Colts Defense

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Issues With Pass Rush, Zone Recognition For Colts Defense

While the offense is clicking right now for the Colts, the team’s defense has had some issues in recent weeks. What is going on with the pass defense right now?

Michael Hickey | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – Over the past month and a half, the Colts are right up there with the Oakland Raiders in creating the least amount of pressure in the NFL and allowing a very high completion percentage as well.

That’s not ideal.

The big sack numbers the Colts were piling up early in the season have deteriorated.

Over the last 5 games, the Colts have just 4 sacks, with the league average during that time being around 13 to 14 sacks. Against the depleted offensive lines of Oakland and Jacksonville, the Colts had 0 combined sacks and only 2 quarterback hits.

Early in the season, with opponents having zero film history of Matt Eberflus as a defensive coordinator, the Colts found success in using stunts and twists to produce 17 sacks in the first 4 games.

But as the season has gone along, and a few injuries have affected Margus Hunt and Denico Autry, the Colts are not getting home.

A return of Kemoko Turay (who missed last week with a neck injury) and now having Tyquan Lewis healthy should aid things moving forward.

And it better because Eberflus doesn’t sound like a guy who will all of a sudden be ramping up the blitzes, despite his unit’s limited pressure in recent weeks.

“We are a rush (with 4 guys) and cover team,” Eberflus reiterated this week. “We are not a big pressure team and we are going to continue with that. We did pressure a few times on third down (against Jacksonville). We had some success a couple times and sometimes we didn’t. We’ll continue to mix those things in there as we go and go from there.

“You’ve got to finish at the top of your rush and keep everything pointing towards the quarterback and strain to get there. I think that the guys are working at it and will continue to work at it and hopefully the numbers improve.”

Certainly, the lack of consistent pressure up front is also hurting the issues in pass coverage right now.

Over the last 6 games, every opposing Colts’ quarterback, not named Derek Anderson, has had a quarterback rating of 100 or better.

The Colts’ 72.0 completion percentage allowed this season is the second worst in the NFL.

Eberflus acknowledges that his unit must do a better job of recognizing and breaking from their zones, into ‘no cover zone’ areas, from 0 to 5 yards.

Tackling is another area that Eberflus wants to see improve for a team playing so many zone looks.

“When you play zone you’re going to get a higher completion rate,” the first-year defensive coordinator says. “As we’ve said, once the rush gets going and the ball gets pumped out a little bit faster the zone players are able to set up and break a little bit faster. We just have to learn to trust the rush. We are working hard on that because that’s part of the system, being able to set up and being able to break in the no cover zone.

“So, it’s a work in progress. We are not there by any stretch of the imagination, so we are working at it.”

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