The 2015 season was a year to forget for the Indianapolis Colts. They entered the year with Super Bowl hopes and expectations yet stumbled to just an 8-8 record as they missed the playoffs. Andrew Luck missed nine games and the team as a whole struggled.
It's no surprise, then, to see the Colts not very well represented on lists discussing the top players from the 2015 season. Pro Football Focus recently finished their countdown of the top 101 players from last year according to their grading method, and the only Colt that made the list is no longer with the team: inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who came in at number 73.
Jerrell Freeman’s season was a true redemption story, and one that earned him a nice new contract from the Chicago Bears in free agency. Freeman posted the best run-defense grade among all linebackers outside of Luke Kuechly, and graded positively across the board in every category PFF measures. He ended the season with 53 defensive stops, and seemed to be a completely different player than the one we saw struggle to a negative overall grade in 2014.
Best performance: Week 8 at Carolina: +8.2
Key stat: Freeman recorded the third-highest run-stop percentage among inside linebackers, at 12.8 percent.
PFF's list is based purely off of 2015 performance, and that certainly warrants Freeman's inclusion. The linebacker started 13 games last year for the Colts and recorded 112 tackles, three sacks, two passes defensed, and an interception as he was one of the best players on Indy's defense. Freeman, a four-year starter for the Colts, had his career-best year in 2015.
This offseason, Freeman left the Colts for the Chicago Bears in free agency, leaving a hole the Colts will need to fill. While they can reasonably expect other players (like Andrew Luck) to rebound and play better next year, they're also losing a big contributor that they will need to replace. The team will attempt to do so with Nate Irving, Sio Moore, Amarlo Herrera, and/or Antonio Morrison as they encourage a competition this offseason and into training camp, but this list from PFF is just another reminder of the big hole left by Jerrell Freeman's departure in free agency.