One of the Colts' biggest problems in 2014 was their lack of pass rush. They lost Robert Mathis for the season before he even played a single game, and from there it was a season-long struggle. Cory Redding and Erik Walden both stepped up their pass rush game, and rookie Jonathan Newsome had a very impressive campaign, but the Colts had to generate most of their pressure through blitzes.
While head coach Chuck Pagano called the team's run defense their "Achilles heel," their pass rush needed to be improved as well. Both Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson emphasized this offseason that you can never have enough pass rushers. "I was brought up with, if you have 12 pass rushers get 13," Grigson said in February at the Scouting Combine. "You can never have enough pass rushers and that's scouting 101."
The team certainly looked to address the area this offseason, as they made a notable veteran signing to bring in Trent Cole - someone who Grigson is familiar with from their time in Philly together and someone who has consistently produced over the past decade.
Spending ten seasons with the Eagles, Cole appeared in 155 games and started 145, recording 569 tackles, 85.5 sacks, 14 passes defensed, and interception, and 19 forced fumbles while making the Pro Bowl twice. His 85.5 sacks rank 48th all-time but 11th among current players. In four different seasons, Cole has registered double-digit sack totals.
With the status of Robert Mathis still uncertain (Jim Irsay said his return might not be until November, while Mathis hopes to be back for the start of training camp), the Colts really needed to add pass rush help. Jonathan Newsome was very encouraging in his rookie season and he hopefully will continue in 2015, but the team needed other options. By adding Trent Cole, they boost their pass rush significantly and hopefully ensure that at least one veteran rusher will be there for Indy all season, whether it be Cole or Mathis (or, ideally, both). The Colts are now the only team in the NFL to boast two active players with 85.5 or more sacks, and hopefully both of them can get on the field together and form a formidable pass rush duo. Add in Jonathan Newsome (and Erik Walden, as well) to the mix and the pass rush has the chance to be a good unit in 2015. Of course, there are questions about both Mathis' health and his age, and with Cole comes the question of age as well, but the hope is that between the two of them the Colts will be able to pressure opposing quarterbacks, in turn making their secondary - already the strength of the defense - even better.
The signing of a pass rusher was one that the Colts needed to make, and Trent Cole has proven himself to be a good player over the past decade. There are questions about his age, but at least for 2015 he should be a noticeable upgrade over the team's pass rushers from a year ago and he gives the Colts at least one productive veteran pass rush option.
Quick Summary: Trent Cole:
Weight: 270 pounds
Age: 32 years old
Years Pro: Spent ten seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (2005-2014)
Drafted: Selected in the fifth round of the 2005 Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles
Stats: Has played in 155 games (145 starts); has recorded 569 tackles, 85.5 sacks, 14 passes defensed, an INT (returned for TD), and 19 forced fumbles.
Pro Bowls: 2
Contract: 2-year, $14 million contract with $8 million guaranteed; $6.75 million cap hit in 2015 (per Spotrac)