There wasn’t a lot of encouraging things to take away from the Colts’ defense in 2016. They were, in fact, the worst Colts defense of the Indianapolis era, in terms of yards per game allowed. There are a lot of needs all over the place for Chris Ballard to address this offseason.
But with all of that said, one of the bright spots of the unit last year was the emergence of safety Clayton Geathers. He had a terrific sophomore season, and he showed quite a bit of improvement from his rookie year. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, he was the second-most improved second-year safety last year behind only Landon Collins.
Most-improved second-year safeties— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 17, 2017
Landon Collins, @Giants +33.7
Clayton Geathers, @Colts +26.0
Anytime you’re mentioned in the same category as Collins, who just had a historic season and was a candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, you’re probably doing something right. And for Geathers, it means he improved a lot from year one to year two.
Geathers started nine games last year and recorded 58 tackles, two tackles for loss, five passes defensed, and a forced fumble, but he wound up on injured reserve with a neck injury that cut his season short. But when he was on the field, he was easily one of the team’s best defenders. It was also interesting to see how the Colts used him, as though he was unquestionably their starting safety, they liked to use him in the box as a linebacker quite a bit too. That has even led some this offseason to discuss whether he should move there full-time.
I’d expect the Colts to continue utilizing Geathers’ versatility, and that surely makes him better and more valuable too. But if he can stay healthy and if he can build on his 2016 season, then the Colts look to have a good one in Clayton Geathers at safety. And with all the other needs defensively, that’s at least one encouraging thing.