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The Colts Blitzed the Third-Most of Any Team in the NFL in 2014

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According to Pro Football Focus, the Indianapolis Colts blitzed the third-most of any team in the NFL in 2014.

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As we covered the Colts all season long, it became apparent that they were blitzing a lot.  The reason for this was perfectly understandable, as they lost Robert Mathis for the season due to a torn Achilles before he played a single game and therefore the Colts were left without a consistent pass rusher.  To compensate, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was forced to dial up quite a few blitzes.

In fact, according to Pro Football Focus' Nathan Jahnke, the Colts blitzed the third-most of any team in the NFL in 2014, by percentage.  PFF's data found that the Colts blitzed on 302 of 730 opponent dropbacks, meaning they blitzed on 41.4% of opponent passing plays.  That number was the third-highest in the league, with only the St. Louis Rams (45.5%) and Arizona Cardinals (42.5%) blitzing more often.  For comparison, the Colts blitzed the ninth-most of any team a year ago in 2013.

Also according to PFF, however, the Colts were 25th in the league in pass rushing productivity while blitzing (31.9).  So, while the Colts did blitz a lot in 2014, they didn't do so very well.  So why'd they keep blitzing if it wasn't working?  Because they didn't really have any other choice.  While they were 25th in the league in pass rushing productivity while blitzing, they were 31st in the league in pass rushing productivity when not blitzing (18.9), with only the Cleveland Browns being worse.

Let's sum up what this data from Pro Football Focus says about the Colts in 2014: they blitzed a lot, but they weren't too good at generating pressure when blitzing.  They had to keep blitzing, however, because they were even worse at generating pressure when they weren't sending extra help.  This conclusion is something that many noticed as the season went on, but now there are numbers to put to those conclusions.

It's hard to place a lot of blame on Greg Manusky for the Colts' pass rush struggles in 2014 because, as we already mentioned, the Colts were playing without Robert Mathis and they didn't really have a great pass rusher.  Rookie Jonathan Newsome stepped up, as did outside linebacker Erik Walden.  Manusky did a pretty good job at trying to get whatever pressure he could out of the players the Colts had, and the way he did that was through blitzing a lot.  But a conclusion that we can draw from all of this: the pass rush was clearly a major problem for the Colts in 2014 and is one of their biggest issues entering this offseason.