The Indianapolis Colts' 2015 schedule was already looking favorable for the team, and it has gotten a bit easier as the Colts won't have to face a very good defensive lineman in each of the first two weeks. That's because of suspensions to two good players, as the Bills' Marcell Dareus was suspended for the team's week one game against the Colts, and then today the Jets' Sheldon Richardson was suspended four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, meaning that he will miss their week two game against the Colts.
Richardson is one of the best defensive linemen in football. In 2013 he was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year, while in 2014 he was named to the Pro Bowl. He has played in every game over the past two seasons, recording 145 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and two passes defensed. Pro Football Focus rated him as the second-best 3-4 defensive end in football last year - behind only J.J. Watt. In fact, he was the seventh-highest rated non-special teams player in the entire NFL last year, according to PFF. Understand that PFF doesn't tell the whole story, but I think you get the idea: this guy is pretty good.
The Colts are fortunate to miss him, as Richardson will miss his team's first four regular season games. The Colts play the Jets in week two on Monday Night Football, the home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium. Richardson is very disruptive in pass rush and can stop the run well also, so the Colts - with question marks along the offensive line - certainly won't miss Richardson, particularly since the Jets still have guys like Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and first round draft pick Leondard Williams along the defensive line to fill in with Richardson out. With the Jets also having a revamped secondary led by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie and a defense that looks to be pretty good in 2015 under head coach Todd Bowles, it still won't be an easy task - but it will be made easier now that Richardson won't be playing in that game.
With both the Bills and the Jets, they are expected to have very good defenses in 2015 and have plenty of playmakers outside of Dareus and Richardson, so they will still pose a threat to the Colts. But you can't help but notice the fact that they'll now be missing two of the best defensive linemen in the league in consecutive weeks to open the season.