INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 22: Brandon King #37 and Antoine Bethea #41 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrate following the game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 22, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Texans 19-16. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Over the last three years, no one has tackled more people from the safety position than Antoine Bethea.
According to Pro Football Focus, who tracked all of Bethea's tackles from 2009 to today, the fact that he earned 311 total tackles (averaging over 100 tackles per season) is both a testament to Bethea's toughness and an indictment of just how awful the Colts defense has been during that time:
Both Yeremiah Bell (261) and Tyvon Branch (258) have had more solo tackles than the 255 Bethea has notched, but he has added 56 assists over that period, taking his tally to a massive 311 total tackles in the 2009-2011 seasons. That’s a safety averaging more than 100 tackles per season, which is truly remarkable, and also quite the sign of the problems in the Colts’ defense during that span.
Yet, even though Bethea is initiating all this contact, even though he is literally throwing his body at moving targets every Sunday, from 2009 to the present Antoine Bethea has never missed a game.
In fact, the last game Bethea missed was December 30th, 2007 against the Tennessee Titans. Since 2006 (the year he was drafted in the 6th round), out of a possible 106 games (including playoff games), Bethea has suited up in 101 of them.
Antoine Bethea might just be the best safety the Indianapolis Colts have ever had. Yes, better than Bob Sanders. Unlike Sanders, who was so brittle it was almost comical, Bethea always plays. There are already reports out of Colts Land that new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is very impressed with Bethea. Chuck Pagano did a lot of great things with Ed Reed in Baltimore. Bethea is no Ed Reed, but that doesn't mean he can't be used more effectively.
Oh, and hopefully, under the new defensive coaches, Bethea has less tackles and more INTs. Safeties should be covering and making plays, not tackling.