The 2018 Indianapolis Colts exceeded any realistic expectations after a horrid 1-5 start and few thought they could make the playoffs with a first year coaching staff, major offensive and defensive scheme transitions, a star quarterback returning to football after nearly two years away from the game, and a second-year general manager who simply didn’t have enough time to put a final stamp on his roster.
While those observations were fair, no one could have expected that Chris Ballard would hit so many home runs in his short time with the Colts. His 2018 Draft class may be the most efficient and productive in Colts history, top to bottom. His free agent signings like Denico Autry, Al Woods, and Margus Hunt have all played important roles in the development for the defense. Where he has absolutely blown the competition away is by stealing away another franchise’s “trash” and turning those players into an Indy treasure.
Three Colts starters who have had a major impact during Ballard’s tenure in Indianapolis were snagged off of waivers from their previous teams. Included in that list is arguably the best man corner on the team Pierre Desir from the Seattle Seahawks. Another Seattle castoff Mark Glowinski stepped in for Matt Slauson after he was injured early in the season at right guard. He had a strong season and earned a great deal of recognition around the league for his contributions. Perhaps the biggest contributor of all is former undrafted rookie free agent Kenny Moore II, who was waived by the Patriots following pre-season in 2017.
Moore earned early recognition in training camp, had a strong pre-season, and kept things rolling into the regular season. He was the most natural fit into the Tampa 2 defense Matt Eberflus brought to Indianapolis and could play all over the field. He was natural sitting in zones, has the speed to be very effective in those spaces, is easily the best run defender at cornerback on the team, can turn and run with receivers in man coverage if necessary, and became the most effective blitzer on the Colts defense.
Before we get into his statistical production this season, it is important to point out that Moore is 5’9” and weighs only 190 lbs. Players his size rarely can hold up in the NFL for a long time and most of them are so aware of their physical limitations that they tend to avoid contact and try to preserve their bodies for a longer career. Who could blame them if they did?
Moore finished fifth overall in tackles with 76, had 1.5 sacks, 4 tackles for a loss, 2 quarterback hits, 3 interceptions, 11 passes defensed and a forced fumble. Many of his biggest plays came at key times in games. He is second only to Darius Leonard in terms of his ability to make these type of game-changing or win-clinching contributions.
In the postseason? Moore finished second on the team with 19 tackles (Darius Leonard had 27!), had 3 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, an interception and 3 passes defensed. The sack number sets an all-time franchise record for sacks in a single post-season.
We see you, @KennyKennyMoe3! pic.twitter.com/3wBBgUiGz7— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) January 15, 2019
No defensive player on the roster has grown more over the last two years. Moore has become an integral piece on defense, a true difference-maker, and is exactly what Chris Ballard is looking for in terms of a locker room presence, toughness, and showing the kind of work ethic required for younger players.
There is no doubt, the darling for the Colts defense is 2018 was Darius Leonard. No player has a greater impact on its success than he does. That said, Kenny Moore’s importance isn’t too far behind him and fans shouldn’t overlook what he accomplished this season.