Through the first quarter of the season, the Indianapolis Colts have been slowly on the rise. The acquisition of Philip Rivers garnered a lot of media attention in the offseason, and armchair GMs had their say about how he could actually improve this roster.
While Rivers has been a marked improvement over the indecisive and inaccurate Jacoby Brissett, he hasn’t been the reason the Colts are sitting at 3-1. The Colts 2020 first round pick is responsible for that. DeForest Buckner’s arrival in Indy for 2020 has paved the way for the defense to sit at the top of the league. Sure, they’ve done it against some pretty poor offenses, but it has been exceedingly clear through 4 weeks that this defense is no pushover, regardless of the competition.
What remains to be seen is whether the offense can begin to find its way and round this team out better as the season goes on. Through 4 weeks, this is how the team stacks up as a whole.
This is too high, but not by much. The Colts have taken advantage of the first part of their schedule by winning three games against teams that are a combined 4-8 this season. The Colts have proved they don’t need Philip Rivers to dominate each week. That’s because their defense has been the stingiest in the NFL so far. The Colts will need to continue to be a complete team the rest of the way because they still have Green Bay, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Tennessee (twice) coming up.
The Colts continue to win with their defense. Nick Foles and the Bears were the latest victims, managing just 269 yards of total offense in Indy’s 19-11 win. The Colts did most of their work on Sunday without All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard , who exited in the first half with a groin injury. It shows the improved depth of the unit compared with past seasons under defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. With the defense humming, Philip Rivers and the offense haven’t had to do too much. The Indy attack hasn’t quite found its footing, but the Colts’ newfound balance allows the team to keep winning while they figure it out.
They haven’t exactly played a lot of top offenses, but the defense has really improved. They will be tested more this week against the Browns.
Never change, Philip Rivers. One of pandemic’s very few silver linings is listening to you trash talk opponents, like Bears LB Roquan Smith, on their home fields.
Indianapolis’ ascension from a middle-of-the-road defense to the best defense in the NFL through a quarter of the season is startling. Of all the paths the Colts had to become AFC South champions, a dominant defense didn’t seem to be one of them.
Raise your hand if you thought the Indianapolis Colts would have the league’s best defense a month into the season.
Now put your hand down, you dirty fibber.
In the offseason, the acquisition of veteran quarterback Philip Rivers got the headlines in Indianapolis. But per Sobleski, Rivers isn’t the main reason the Colts are sitting in first place in the AFC South.
“Rivers was supposed to be the final piece of the puzzle for the Indianapolis Colts after Jacoby Brissett struggled last season,” he wrote. “The Colts are almost winning in spite of the 38-year-old signal-caller, not because of him. Sure, Rivers is completing 72.7 percent of his passes, but Indianapolis’ identity is built on the five plowhorses in front of the quarterback, a strong running attack and the game’s No. 1-ranked defense.”
That defense has been dominant of late—including just 269 yards allowed to the Bears. The offensive line may well be the best in the game.
And the Colts have the look of the class of their division.
AFC South Rankings
CBS Sports: 25
USA Today: 27
CBS Sports: 7
USA Today: 9
CBS Sports: 29
USA Today: 29