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ESPN ranking of Colts defensive triplets gets one very important thing wrong

NFL: Divisional Round-Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell ranked each team’s offensive triplets. His criteria was simple - it wasn’t based on positions but rather simply looking at the three best players from each offense (though his one criteria was that the quarterback must be included). The Colts ranked 13th in that list, but they didn’t rank as well in Barnwell’s most recent rankings: the league’s defensive triplets.

That was what Barnwell undertook today, as his most recent article was looking at the best three defensive players on each team and ranking them. It’s important to realize that this wasn’t restricted to certain positions - for instance, Barnwell writes that one team’s defensive triplets could consist of three defensive linemen. For the Colts, Barnwell wrote that their triplets are cornerback Vontae Davis, safety Mike Adams, and defensive lineman Arthur Jones, and he ranked them 25th. Here’s what he said:

If the Jags become a cautionary tale for spending extensively in free agency and failing to improve matters, they'll only be taking that title away from the Colts, who have a defensive lineup full of names who have failed to live up to their contracts or their résumés. (Davis, remember, was acquired via trade.) Adams, who has made the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons at the ages of 33 and 34, has been one of the rare exceptions, but he's also entering his age-35 season. The Colts might very well start two homegrown players -- 2015 fourth-rounder Clayton Geathers and fellow fifth-rounder David Parry -- on defense this season. You don't necessarily need to develop your own talent to find stars, but your chances of finding a dominant player in free agency in an era when the cap is rising by close to 10 percent on an annual basis is remarkably slim.

It all sounds nice and good to talk about the Colts’ free agent failures on defense, and while there certainly have been plenty, here’s the problem with this ranking: the free agent failure listed is nowhere near the group of best defensive players. It’s kind of important for a ranking of the three best defensive players on each team to include, well, the best three defensive players. And that group for the Colts most certainly does not include Arthur Jones.

Vontae Davis is a no-brainer inclusion. Mike Adams, who has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons, makes perfect sense. But Jones makes no sense. He’s hardly played at all, and while the ranking takes the player’s career into account, Barnwell also writes that the 2015 season is weighted more prominently - and Jones didn’t even play a game. He has played just nine games over the past two seasons with the Colts and has started just three of them, as he unfortunately has struggled with injuries. There’s hope that he can be a good player for the Colts when healthy, but right now it’s nothing more than a hope. For a ranking right now, Henry Anderson is the easy choice over Arthur Jones. Anderson missed several games due to injury last year too, but he was one of the team’s best defensive players during the nine games that he did play. He was phenomenal, but it seems that Barnwell completely forgot about him for this list, as he didn’t even include him among the second-year players who could start despite listing Clayton Geathers and David Parry. Furthermore, Anderson wasn’t the only one better than a player who didn’t play at all - Kendall Langford was impressive, Robert Mathis could be included as a pass rusher, and even D’Qwell Jackson was at the very least productive. My point is this: the ranking of the Colts’ three best defensive players doesn’t include the Colts’ three best defensive players.

Nobody is arguing that the Colts’ defensive triplets should rank as highly as their offensive triplets, but it would be nice to actually start with the correct group. I think it would be much more accurate to suggest that Vontae Davis, Mike Adams, and Henry Anderson are the team’s defensive triplets, which looks much better than the one Barnwell listed.