Perhaps the biggest free agent signing that the Colts made this offseason (besides bringing back their own) was signing former Ravens defensive lineman Arthur Jones, and Jones checks in to the list of the 14 most important players to the Colts success in 2014 at number 7.
Jones was familiar with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano from his days in Baltimore, where Pagano was the defensive coordinator of a unit that included Jones. Pagano was one of the main reasons why Jones choose Indianapolis, and he's now here to contribute in an effort to win his second Super Bowl ring. Entering his fifth season in the league, Jones has played in 46 career games, starting 20, though most of his production has come in the past two seasons. In 2012 he racked up 47 tackles and 4.5 sacks as the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl that year, and then last season he notched 53 tackles and 4 sacks. His primary strength is run defense, and that's exactly where the Colts need his help. Jones can do well as a pass rusher, but he's best as a run defender, and that's where the Colts defense was at it's worst last year.
Furthermore, Jones was really the Colts's one big acquisition in the effort to improve the run defense. D'Qwell Jackson was a big addition and he'll start at inside linebacker, but his weakness is run defense, not his strength. The run defense that was gashed in New England last year simply must be better, and the Colts are counting on Arthur Jones to play a big part in that.
Jones can also help in terms of versatility, as he can play any of the three spots along the Colts defensive line. He's listed as a defensive end and that's probably his most natural position, but he can easily slide over to nose tackle and handle those duties. Where exactly he plays probably will end up having more to do with how guys like Josh Chapman and Ricky Jean Francois do, but there's no doubt about the fact that Jones will be playing and will be heavily involved in the defensive line.
He's on this list because he was a big free agent signing, sure, but more than that he's on this list because it seems like he was the big plan to improve the run defense for the Colts. It wasn't D'Qwell Jackson and it wasn't Vontae Davis, and the Colts first two draft picks were used on offensive players. The biggest concern of the Colts defense last year was the run defense, and Jones is the answer to that for the Colts. He is indeed a terrific run defender along the defensive line and should help shore up both the positional unit and the defensive unit as a whole, and he'll be important in defending the run. Perhaps this seems a bit high for him, and I'll admit that I raised him a bit after thinking about it more, but I think that with the importance of the run defense and the need the Colts had to improve it, it makes Jones that much more important this year. He'll help in other areas such as pass rush and the like, but he was primarily brought in as a versatile run stopper, and it is crucially important for him to play up to that expectation if the Colts don't want another performance like the one they suffered against the Patriots in the playoffs last year.
Check out our list counting down the 14 most important players to the Colts' success in 2014:
14. Pat McAfee, punter
13. Anthony Castonzo, left tackle
12. Greg Toler, cornerback
11. Reggie Wayne, wide receiver
10. Cory Redding, defensive lineman
9. Dwayne Allen, tight end
8. Bjoern Werner, outside linebacker
7. Arthur Jones, defensive lineman