A lot has been said about one Laron Landry this offseason as we head into 2014. Most of the ire he's been receiving comes from not fans who feel hasn't been "living up" to the standards that most thought he should, especially when almost everyone is comparing him to the 2012 pro-bowl version that played for the Jets. Here in lies the problem. One of the biggest things all of Landry's detractors overlook is the fact that the Jets team Landry played for had a much better defense than the one he was on last year with the Colts. Chuck Pagano and the front office have been "building the monster" from the time of Chuck's arrival. This is a process that almost never happens overnight, and impatient fans seem to forget that around here.
Over the past 2 years coach Pags has been trying to fortify the front seven in order to do something the Colts haven't been able to accomplish since the 2006 playoffs: Stop the run. Enter Laron Landry and the current pieces that have been added since GM Ryan Grigson's arrival. This team has slowly (but surely) been transforming into the type of team on defense that coach Pagano and his staff have had the pleasure of coaching in Baltimore. Big, fast, and physical. I think one of the things a lot of Landry's critics have been out of touch with is the fact that he has never been the type of player who participates in off-season minicamps that aren't mandatory. Key words: "Not mandatory." Grigson knew this before signing him and stated as much in a recent interview on Colts.com:
There are always some guys who like to get away and do things on their own. We knew this when we signed him (Landry). We knew this when we signed him because he's always done that through his whole career...
If Grigson knew that Landry's off-season routine was not participating in non-mandatory minicamps and didn't have a problem with it (As he's clearly stated in the interview quote above), why are so many fans complaining about it? One of the most common things sports fans seem to forget when it comes to pro athletes is the reality that the players they look up to and root for have lives too. That fact doesn't change simply because you think it should due to the "amount of money they make." In essence that's what most of the criticism from fans boils down to. Quite frankly I don't really care what a player does on his own time in how he prepares for the season. The only thing that matters to me is how he performs when the season starts and the bullets are live.
The truth in all of this is that Landry has been unjustly blamed for not only subpar performances, but also the overall performance of the entire defense. As I mentioned earlier, Pags and company have been focusing on upgrading the front seven of the Colts defense over the past 2 years. Once that's done (As it should be this year), it will help both Landry's production as well as who ever the Colts place back there with him to anchor the secondary. If you can't stop the run and pressure the QB consistently with your front seven, I don't care who you have as a Safety. They will all "suck." All of the top safeties in the league play for teams who can consistently do both the requirements I mentioned for a defense. Do you think you would know Troy Palamalu as "Troy Palamalu" if he played for say, the Jacksonville Jaguars defense? Of course not! Well the same scenario applies for Landry. He, as well as any Safety for that matter need a good front 7 in front of them in order to be affective. Your free safeties aren't supposed to do the job that should be done already by the players in front of them. Your Safeties' job is to be the last line of defense. Hence the position name: "Safety."