Arthur Jones wasn't a new addition to the Indianapolis Colts this offseason, but it almost feels like he was.
That's because, in his first year with the team, much of his time was spent recovering from injury. Signed by the Colts as a free agent last year after four years with the Baltimore Ravens to be a key run-stopper along the defensive line, Jones was injured in the team's week two loss to the Eagles, suffering an ankle injury. That resulted in him missing seven of the team's next eight games, and even upon returning he was still working on getting healthy. From the time of his injury in week two, his next start didn't come until week sixteen. He started the final five games of the season (including playoffs), but the general feeling was that his 2014 season was largely consumed by injury.
Entering 2015, then, it feels as if Arthur Jones could be a new addition to the defense, as long as he stays healthy. And the Colts need Jones to be the player they thought they were getting when they signed him as a free agent last offseason. The Colts signed Jones to a large deal primarily because of his skills as a run defender, where he was particularly stout during his time with the Ravens. He was a great fit for Chuck Pagano's 3-4 system and made a ton of sense for a team desperately needing defensive line and run defense help, even if the contract wasn't loved by everyone.
And those reasons are precisely why Arthur Jones is such an important player to the Indianapolis Colts in 2015 - high enough that he's ranked number four on our list. The concerns still remain about the Colts' defensive line and run defense, and the team didn't do a ton to quell those questions this offseason. The signing of Kendall Langford at defensive end could end up being a good move, but they also lost Cory Redding along the defensive line. And the Colts will need to be counting on their big free agent signing from 2014 to make a big impact in the 2015 season.
Here's the deal: the Colts' run defense hasn't been very good for the past few seasons, something that has been highlighted by the games against the Patriots. Adding defensive lineman Kendall Langford should help. Adding inside linebacker Nate Irving should help, too. And hoping for improvement from inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman would be nice also, as would improvement from nose tackle Josh Chapman. But the most realistic and best chance at improving the Colts' run defense in 2015 is Arthur Jones. He is a 3-4 defensive tackle who can play anywhere along the defensive line and who, while he can get after the quarterback, is best against the run. He can engage blockers and be a force in the ground game, something the Colts desperately need. The rush of free agency has come and gone, as has the draft, and yet still the best hope for improvement in the area of run defense in 2015 is with Arthur Jones.
That's why he is so high on this list. This is an area that concerns pretty much everyone who has followed the team, and it's the first reason people will cite when wondering whether the Colts will actually be as good in 2015 as many think they will be. "Can they stop the run?" That question is legitimate, and we'll just have to wait and see on the field. People will say that the Colts didn't do enough to improve the area, and I won't argue with anyone who says that. But it's also important to realize that Arthur Jones will be returning for a second season - one that, in a way, feels like a fresh start. He's the best hope the Colts have for improving on their biggest weakness, and that places him at number four on our countdown of the most important Colts for 2015.
Past rankings on this list: 7th (2014)
Check out our list counting down the 15 most important players to the Colts' success in 2015:
15. Jerrell Freeman, ILB
14. Greg Toler, CB
7. Mike Adams, S
4. Arthur Jones, DL