Last week the Indianapolis Colts signed defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, and he met the media yesterday as the team began their offseason workouts.
One of the questions Hankins was asked was about what he knew about the Colts’ defense before he signed. His answer, according to the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer? He knew “they were pretty bad against the run.”
That’s an understatement.
The Colts have been a disaster against the run in recent memory. Last year, the Colts ranked 25th in the NFL in yards per game allowed and 30th in yards per carry allowed - and that has been a trend. In the Chuck Pagano era, the Colts have ranked 29th, 26th, 18th, 25th, and 25th in rushing yards per game allowed, while they have ranked 31st, T-24th, T-19th, T-21st, and 30th in yards per carry allowed. That’s not a struggle unique to the Chuck Pagano era Colts either, and to find the last time the Colts were even in the top half of the league in rushing yards allowed or yards per carry allowed, you’d have to go back to 2007 - when they ranked 15th in yards per game and sixth in yards per carry. The Colts have really struggled against the run.
So Hankins isn’t wrong in saying that the Colts were pretty bad against the run, and it’s that statement that helps us see why the Colts did indeed sign him to a significant contract. Hankins has proven to be a very good force against the run during his four years with the Giants, and he figures to keep improving.
Hankins said that he’ll be playing at both the three-technique and nose tackle positions along the line for the Colts, wherever they want him. But what does he bring to the defense?
“Just a guy that knows how to stop the run and how to effect quarterbacks and just playing together as a unit,” Hankins explained. “There is not really a one-man thing. You need all 11 from the linebackers to the safeties to the defensive ends, to be all on the same core. The coaches have been stressing that today and I think we are going to progress during OTAs.”
The Colts are a team that has struggled against the run. Johnathan Hankins is a player who is good against the run. So the fit makes sense, and it’s easy to see why the Colts went after him. Hopefully, with the addition of Hankins, that weakness that even he identified before signing with the Colts will begin to be fixed.