I've heard a lot of chatter through Stampede Blue as well as many other sites claiming the Colts should be worried about the pass rush behind Robert Mathis. If the Colts still ran the Ron Meeks Cover 2 I too would be really worried if Robert Mathis was our only pass rusher. However, the scheme Chuck Pagano brought with him from Baltimore is capable of producing pressure from many different positions. So I went back to look at the stats and see where the pressure can come from in our relatively new defensive scheme.
During his only year (2011) as Baltimore defensive coordinator 14 different players registered a sack. The team as a whole registered 48 sacks, tied for third in the NFL. As expected the main sack producer was Terrell Suggs with 14 sacks. However, second place was DL Pernell McPhee with 6 sacks. Paul Kruger, an OLB, was third with 5.5 sacks, but right behind him was Haloti Ngata with 5 sacks. And our very own Cory Redding was next with 4.5 sacks. In fact, 26 (54%) of their 48 sacks came from positions other than the outside linebackers.
In 2010, Pagano was the secondary coach of the Ravens but they essentially ran the same defense. Of the team’s 27 sacks the outside linebackers registered 12.5 (46%). In 2009, 14.5 (45%) of the team’s 32 sacks were registered by outside linebackers. In 2008, Pagano’s first season with the Ravens, 14.5 (43%) sacks of the 34 came via outside linebackers.
In contrast, the 2009 Colts credited their defensive ends for 26.5 of their team’s 34 sacks (78%). In our 2006 Super Bowl Championship season 19.5 (78%) sacks of the team’s 25 sacks came via defensive end. However, last year only 18 (56%) of our 32 sacks were registered by outside linebackers. Now that number isn’t in quite to the levels of the Ravens coached by Pagano, but it is a significant difference compared to our old defensive scheme.
Now did the Ravens defense have more talent than the 2013 Colts? Perhaps, I personally think our secondary has the potential to be better than the 2011 or 2012 Ravens secondary. I'm very satisfied with Angerer and Freeman at ILB and I think we have amazing depth on the defensive line.
Did we lose the production of Freeney and Hughes (9 sacks combined)? Yes, but I believe that one additional year of experience in the 3-4 and improved personnel fit will boost those sack numbers. Will we reach 2011 Ravens numbers? Who knows, but I do believe we will better our 2012 numbers.
I wrote this fanpost with the hopes of alleviating some of the concern with the pass rush. Robert Mathis still has something in the tank and the rest of the cavalry is on its way to help. GO COLTS!!!