If I had to choose the biggest positive from Sunday's ugly loss to the Buffalo Bills for the Colts, it would be the defensive line. A group that is very inexperienced and was starting two rookies actually looked quite good. Kendall Langford was making his Colts debut after being signed as a free agent this offseason, while rookies David Parry and Henry Anderson made their debuts as well along the line. And the group played very well together.
Anderson especially stood out as impressive, garnering praise from all over the place, including from head coach Chuck Pagano.
"Guy made a ton of plays in the backfield," Pagano said on Monday. "I don't think we've had a defensive linemen around here since I've been here, an interior guy, a guy that plays the five, the nose or the three end up with eight, nine, 10 tackles on the stat sheet. Very, very active. He did a great job."
Anderson was credited with nine tackles on Sunday, which as Pagano noted, is a very high number for a defensive lineman in a 3-4 defense. Anderson tied for the team lead in tackles and is tied for the most tackles by a defensive lineman in the entire league after one week - tied with the Rams' Aaron Donald and the Texans' J.J. Watt. According to Pro Football Focus, he made five stops in the run game - tied with J.J. Watt for the most among defensive ends. Anderson was all over the field and was very impressive.
Nose tackle David Parry was also making his first career start, and while he was nowhere near as impressive as Anderson, he held his own against the Bills as well. "David did a good job," Pagano said. "Like to see a little bit more production and we'll get it out of 54."
Ultimately, Pagano liked what he saw from the two rookie linemen. "I thought those two were outstanding," he concluded. "Got some things to clean up like anybody else, but guy made plays. You can't ask for anything more, especially out of a rookie."
And that's the bottom line: for two rookies making their first starts on the road against a good Bills team, both Parry and Anderson did better than expected and both impressed. And let's not forget about Kendall Langford, either, who tied for the third most stops in the run game among 3-4 defensive ends with three, again according to PFF. He also recorded two hurries in the area of pass rush, tied with Jerrell Freeman and Clayton Geathers for the most on the team (and tied for the sixth-most among 3-4 defensive ends).
There were, once again, questions regarding the defense. The inside linebackers were a noticeable weakness, while the absence of Greg Toler was felt. The pass rush struggled to get to the quarterback, as the team didn't record a single quarterback hit. But the unit that seemed to have the most question marks entering the season was perhaps the strongest on Sunday, despite their inexperience. The starting defensive line of Kendall Langford, David Parry, and Henry Anderson looked formidable on Sunday, and hopefully that will continue to be the case moving forward this season.