INDIANAPOLIS – The goal is lofty, times about 100.
Well, it is, especially when you look at the recent history of the Indianapolis Colts.
Back in the spring, Colts second-year linebacker Bobby Okereke said a goal for the Indy defense in 2020 is to record “40-plus takeaways.”
Anthony Walker said the same thing last week.
“Our whole mantra this year has been trying to get 40-plus takeaways,” the team’s leading tackler from 2019 said. “We believe we have the guys on our defense to do that.”
That would be quite the jump from the Colts defense we’ve seen over the past decade.
Since 2010, the Colts have never recorded more than 27 takeaways in a season, having not finished as a top-9 turnover team in that span.
2010: 23 (10th)
2011: 26 (10th)
2012: 20 (20th)
2013: 17 (26th)
2014: 25 (12th)
2015: 26 (10th)
2016: 27 (15th)
2017: 15 (30th)
2018: 17 (30th)
2019: 21 (28th)
So, going from the numbers above to 40-plus takeaways is quite the lofty goal in Year Three of Matt Eberflus’ defense.
“We have the goal of being a top-five defense if not one of the top defenses in the league,” Okereke says.
“We know what we’re capable of – we’re fast, we’re physical and we’re a young defense. It’s kind of been bolstered by these new offseason acquisitions. We’re definitely excited and we’re trying to take over this season.”
Outside of DeForest Buckner, the Colts defense will only have 1 new starter in their starting 11 this season (CB-Xavier Rhodes in the nickel package).
Is a guy like Buckner, plus all the returnees around him, going to make that type of difference in the turnover department?
But improving in that takeaway category was an unquestioned goal for Chris Ballard entering this offseason.
“We’re not taking the ball away at a rate that we need to, to be successful,” Ballard said at the end of the 2019 season. “We have to be better at that, and that falls on me, too. I’ve got to find players that can take the ball away. We have not done that at a level that I think is good enough yet.”