So far in free agency the Indianapolis Colts have been busy, signing 13 players in the last two weeks. The team has addressed multiple spots on the roster, but none have seen more additions than outside linebacker.
The Colts signed Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, and Barkevious Mingo soon after free agency began, and in particular Sheard and Simon represent two of the biggest signings the team has made, along with the re-signing of Jack Doyle. It’s clear that the Colts really needed a makeover at the position, and they’ve begun that.
Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino recently appeared on a podcast with Colts.com’s Matt Taylor to talk about the defense, and one of the things he touched on was the outside linebacker additions.
“Well I think we’re in the prove-it business,” Monachino said of those three signings. “I know that those three guys all think that they can come in and contribute, and we believe the same thing or they wouldn’t be here. I will tell you that all three have dominant traits as pass rushers, as special teams players, and as edge setters. So we’ve got a chance to get a lot of good football out of those three guys. I think that by nature of the position that they play you immediately think pass rush, and I think all three of those guys will bring some juice in that area, which we needed desperately. And having some young guys in the system that can come in and rush the passer and win on their own is going to be a benefit to us.”
The common thought is that the guys the Colts signed do more to address the strongside outside linebacker spot than the rush linebacker spot, but Monachino seems to think that all three guys can definitely get after the quarterback as well. Over the past two years, Sheard and Simon have combined to record 21.5 sacks and 43 quarterback hurries, while Mingo was drafted in the first round in 2013 in part because of his pass rush ability.
Simon in particular has a connection to Ted Monachino, as he was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 where he played for Monachino, then the linebackers coach for the Ravens. So Monachino is familiar with the player, and he’s impressed with John Simon and had good things to say about him.
“Well when you talk about football character, and a guy that was born to play this game, that’s John Simon,” Monachino said. “This guy is, he’s a Youngstown, Ohio native, and everything about him is Youngstown, Ohio. He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s gritty, he understands that effort wins, he’s like I said a high football character guy that also has some real traits as a physical football player. And he’s a guy that you inject into the locker room and the character quotient in the locker room immediately goes up. Great, great guy, and we were fortunate to have him in Baltimore; he may have felt a little bit unfortunate to be in Baltimore the time he was there because of the guys he was playing with, the guys in that room [were] a pretty special group.”
That was pretty much the same situation Simon found himself in with the Texans, where he spent the last three years competing for time with a lot of good players.
“Yeah, a lot of them,” Monachino agreed, “and [he] still found a way to contribute and be a good player for the Texans for the last couple years, but on a good defense and so I know he’s, from a culture standpoint, he’s going to help us improve there as well.”
Does that ring a bell? A good addition from a locker room and culture standpoint? It should, because that’s been a big emphasis of Chris Ballard’s. Another one of his emphases seems to have been to improve the outside linebacker position, and he’s done that with some of these signings. It remains to be seen exactly how the Colts will use these players, and the team still could use a playmaking pass rusher in the draft, but Ted Monachino is a fan of the additions the Colts have made so far. Hopefully, that translates to results on the field.