The Colts paid Vontae Davis heavily in order to keep him around in Indianapolis, and it was a good move by the team. But everyone knows that if the Colts are paying Davis like a top cornerback, he needs to play like a top cornerback.
Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky talked to the media on Sunday and was asked about what Vontae Davis needs to do to take that next step to being elite, and Manusky's answer was clear: get more interceptions.
"I think the standpoint of picks. If you're going to say, ‘Okay, this guy's an elite guy,' well (Darrelle) Revis back in the day and doing what he did, it comes down to picks. Is he going to get picks? Sometimes it's an elite guy that they're not going to throw to him. From that standpoint, I think that's the way the majority of people in the United States judge it, so that's what you've got to do."
Davis recorded just one interception in 2013 despite playing in every game. In his four seasons prior to 2013, he has recorded 4, 1, 4, and 3 interceptions, respectively. While we do need to be careful judging a corner by the number of interceptions they get, Manusky does have a great point - he wants turnovers. He wants his elite cornerback to be forcing turnovers. Who's going to disagree with that? If we get to the point where teams won't throw to the man Davis is covering then we'll talk about it, but for now, he should have more picks.
Manusky also talked about Davis and his improvement over the past few years:
"I think anytime you are in the same system for one, two, three years, the calls come to you a lot. Then you start working on your technique a little bit more and from a corner standpoint, that is the major thing and over the years some guys, young guys when you get them out of college, all they were taught was back paddle and I don't know what they were taught at other places in the NFL or even in college but for Vontae, he is buying into the system from a technique standpoint and how we are teaching it, and he has had success in it. He sees that success so he is going to rely on it and fall back on it. A lot of those young bucks when they come into the league they get in preseason games and the first thing they do is revert back to what they used to know. That is what we are trying to do with the young guys as well with the old guys is always push that technique and fundamentals that Mike Gillhamer is pushing and usually success comes out of it because you'll see it."
Vontae Davis is a borderline elite cornerback already. Playing at his best last year, he absolutely was, but the issue was that he struggled a bit with inconsistency. It's absolutely reasonable to expect Davis to take that next step toward being elite in 2014, however, and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said the way for him to do that is to force more turnovers.