The Indianapolis Colts thus far in camp have shown that their offense is likely in pretty good shape. Andrew Luck is back and looking as good as ever, several weapons have been added and some of those are showing off their stuff each day, and the offensive line is as good as we’ve seen in years and is one that is full of hope for the future.
On the defensive side of the ball, many questions will need to be answered throughout the season. So much youth and inexperience, a completely new system being implemented, and a group that, collectively, hasn’t really put it all together yet in practices.
However, there is a ton of potential with this young group that most times gets overlooked when discussing the viability of the Colts defense this season.
Quincy Wilson is one of those being glossed over a bit nationally, and is going to be a major piece in the Colts’ defensive growth if the first week-plus of practices is any indication. Wilson has come into the 2018 season with a refinement of his game to stack on top of the immense natural skillset he brought in as a rookie.
Wilson has been one of the most impressive players on the field to this point, on either side of the ball. He’s been a thorn in the side of the receivers with his physicality, and is consistently within arm’s reach of the ball as it arrives which has allowed him to make several plays in the process.
I don’t know if I could count on both hands how many times Wilson smacked a ball away as it was being caught, forced a fumble after the reception or broke up a pass — just within the first few days of camp. There have been a lot.
It’s been quite noticeable to us on the sidelines watching practice, but have the coaches been coming away with the same observations? Frank Reich has at least, and you could see the excitement in his smile when asked about what he’s seen from Wilson so far in camp.
“Really competitive. Really tough. Caught my eye right away even back when he came in for the rookie thing. He was running at a different speed than everybody else it seemed like at first. So very competitive, tough. That’s, in a secondary, I think as a guy who’s been on the other side of the ball trying to play against those guys, he’s got that toughness about his play that is what we’re looking for.”
Oh, it’s caught everyone’s eye. From him jumping routes, knocking balls loose, being physical — especially in the red zone work — to feeling the run quickly and pushing the ball carrier back inside. Wilson, more or less said, that we should expect more of this as the season gets under way, but didn’t limit this style of play to just himself.
How is your practice routine going to translate to gameday, and with the new system having expectations of being more physical at the position, do some of the big running backs in the division present a challenge?
“Whatever I do in practice, I’m going to do in the games so I’m just going out there and doing what I do so that I can play good on Sundays. We’re all playing more physical, and we’re flying around and it’s going to be a lot of big backs we’re going to have to bring down. It won’t be a problem, though, because we’re going to have five, six, seven guys to the ball, so we’ll be just fine.”
Last season, Wilson was inactive for a host of games, but played pretty well when he was active. The previous coaching staff had some reservations about how ready he was and Wilson has something to prove this year, and his growth has even been noticeable to himself.
“I feel like I’m ten times better than last year. I was just watching some film from me last year, and I feel like I’m a whole different person. I’m more in shape, I move better, I look better, my confidence is better. Every day I’m still working on my pad height, footwork, eye discipline — every day — just keep improving on the little things. I’m going to just keep putting in the work.”
Putting better on-field work together with the right mindset ahead of the 2018 season is exactly what he, and the Colts need from him for a secondary that is trying to change their perception. Despite having a very unproven group at cornerback, Wilson sees the potential and work ethic from them.
“Absolutely. I feel really good [about the group]. We’ve been competing, and just going hard and getting a lot of good work and putting a lot of good stuff on film. You know it’s just preaching competition. Nothing is set in stone, and you gotta go out there everyday and fight for your spot. I feel like we’re all really getting after it, it doesn’t matter who’s running with the ones, twos or threes.”
Come the season, though, the chemistry between the cornerbacks and safeties is going to be critical to finding success in this system. Two deep safeties in the base, and the single-high set up to a cover-3 look relies heavily on communication and the natural chemistry from all parts of the secondary.
With Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers being activated from the PUP list, the unit will attempt to mold quickly with a very skilled, instinctive group. To this point Matthias Farley, T.J. Green and Ronald Martin have been the primary group over the top, and Wilson feels they’ve been good about their work thus far.
“It’s been good. It’s going to big, you know. A good defense is a communicating one and that’s something that we’re working on every day in practice too.”
Considering all of the negative expectations being tossed around about the Colts defense, it’s easy to have a ‘glass half-empty’ vision of what this season may bring in Indianapolis. And I get it, the Colts could easily have three new starting linebackers, several rookies and second-year players working on the defensive line and the secondary has been getting a heavy beating from Andrew Luck and this offense early in camp.
But, the pieces are coming together. Maybe not to the extent of what we hope to see quite yet, but that’ll take a bit of time. Some of the undrafted rookies have begun to show up, D.J. White has been providing some solid depth, there’s a real battle between Nate Hairston and Kenny Moore for extra snaps in the defense and the Colts just got their two starters at safety back in the mix.
This secondary is all about potential and meeting expectations early in the season. They will now have a near-full group to work with for the next month before the season kicks off. There’s a lot to be excited about.
Many are wondering if this defense just isn’t that good right now, and maybe they’re not. But, there’s a lot of time to get there before the season gets under way — and Quincy Wilson is going to be a big-time playmaker for this defense as it gets everything smoothed out.