In each of the past two offseasons, the safety position has been an area of need for the Indianapolis Colts. In each of the past two offseasons, the Colts have addressed the position with a low-money veteran free agent signing. And in each of the past two seasons, those veterans have stepped up and provided consistent and reliable play in the secondary.
In 2014, it was Mike Adams. In 2015, it was Dwight Lowery (and Adams, who re-signed with the team). Each year, those deals turned out to be among the best made in free agency by the Colts. In 2015, the Colts' safety position was left up to Adams and Lowery, and they played well.
Adams followed up a career-season in 2014 by once again having a good year in Indy. He made his second straight (and second career) Pro Bowl berth for his play and proved to be a turnover machine for the Colts for the second straight year also. In all, he started 13 games and recorded 75 tackles, a sack, six passes defensed, five interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Adams recorded interceptions of notable quarterbacks such as Tom Brady (a pick-six) and Peyton Manning this season, and he also was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week in week five after picking off two passes against the Houston Texans.
Lowery also had a very good year with the Colts, as he proved to be incredibly reliable. He started every game and recorded 76 tackles, a sack, eight passes defensed, and four interceptions (returning one for a touchdown). Lowery didn't receive the notoriety as Adams, but he was a help in the run game, forced turnovers, and did a fine job in coverage. He was able to help the Colts in a number of ways, and he made it so that safety was no longer a major concern like it was entering the season.
Outside of the two veteran starters, the most notable player at the safety position was Clayton Geathers, who was drafted by the Colts in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He had a reputation as a big-hitter, and he certainly lived up to that during his first year in Indy. The Colts have high hopes for him, and after some of what he showed last year it makes sense why that is. He played in 15 games and started two of them, recording 34 tackles and a pass defensed. He took over as the team's third safety option from Colt Anderson as the season went on, and he's the real wild card to keep an eye on this offseason as it pertains to future plans at safety (which we'll get to in just a moment).
Colt Anderson also is worth mentioning here, as he played in 14 games and started one of them, recording 17 tackles. He was the first one to fill in for Mike Adams when the starter missed a game, but later in the season the job went to Geathers. Anderson did about what you'd expect from a backup filling in, meaning he was solid but showed weaknesses too. He was mainly re-signed for his special teams ability, though he did see some action at safety this year too.
The other safeties were on the team almost exclusively for special teams reasons. Winston Guy played in 12 games for the Colts and recorded six tackles, but an overwhelming percentage of his action came on special teams. Likewise, Dewey McDonald played in one game on special teams between time spent on the active roster and practice squad, and he wound up playing for the Patriots and the Raiders this year as well. Akeem Davis was claimed off of waivers later in the year for special teams purposes and played three games with the Colts.
Moving forward, the Colts have some decisions to make at safety. Mike Adams is under contract for 2016 and it makes no sense to try to move on from him this offseason, so it's likely that he'll return as one of the team's starters next season. At the other spot, however, is much more uncertainty. Dwight Lowery is set to become a free agent, and his play in 2015 warrants serious consideration from the Colts on bringing him back. He played well enough to inspire confidence in the position if he were to be paired with Adams for a second season, and that would allow the Colts to focus on more pressing needs. As mentioned earlier, however, the real wild card at the safety position this offseason will be Clayton Geathers. He has plenty of talent, and that could lead to the Colts giving him the shot at the starting job. If the team doesn't make an effort to re-sign Lowery, it could possibly be a sign that Geathers may be getting a chance at the position.
That will be decided in the following months, however; for now, we look back at the 2015 season and realize that the safety position was a very reliable one for the Colts that proved to be a consistent force in the midst of a rough season.
For more in-depth analysis of the Colts' 2015 season, check out Josh Wilson's other position reviews: