clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Colts Malik Hooker, Darius Leonard Named to PFF’s ‘All-Clutch Team’

New, comments

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: NOV 11 Jaguars at Colts Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to Pro Football Focus, Indianapolis Colts starting safety Malik Hooker (First-Team) and linebacker Darius Leonard (2nd-Team) have been named to their second annual ‘All-Clutch Team’:

LB DEION JONES, ATLANTA FALCONS AND JOE SCHOBERT, CLEVELAND BROWNS

Second Team: Cory Littleton, Los Angeles Rams and Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts

S MALIK HOOKER, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AND TRE BOSTON, CAROLINA PANTHERS

Second Team: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers and Devin McCourty, New England Patriots

The job of a free safety can be without glamour and hard to judge at times. If they’re doing their job well, the ball isn’t going to come their way all that often, leaving them with fewer opportunities to make the splash plays on the ball that bring the recognition. Both Hooker and Boston did excellent jobs of both limiting throws into their coverage and making plays on the ball when passes did come their way. Boston was targeted as the primary coverage defender just once in this sample, but he came away with one forced incompletion and one interception anyway. Likewise, Hooker was targeted only four times with two interceptions to his name. It’s hard to get much better than that.

Pro Football Focus selected the players who graded the best in the fourth quarter and overtime of one-score games (within eight points)—with a minimum threshold of 75 snaps.

While there’s no formal write-up for both of the Colts ‘clutch’ defenders, Leonard seems to make big plays when it matters most in critical late-game situations—having a long history:

Meanwhile, Hooker is hardly thrown at—which probably means he’s A) either holding his own in coverage or B) opposing quarterbacks are afraid to challenge him back there with his elite ballhawking skills.

Still, 2 interceptions in 4 coverage targets during the 4th quarter and overtime is pretty impressive—including this spectacular one-handed snag against the Chargers last season:

Both of the Colts’ 24 year old defenders are two of their top young playmakers on defense—although Indianapolis is hoping to see more from Hooker this upcoming season.

Still, having them rise to the occasion in the 4th quarter—like a famous #31 who played for the Indiana Pacers, is always fun—knowing that the defense could only just be a big play away from changing the game’s momentum or outcome—and either young gun is fully capable of supplying it.

The Colts used to have that consistent clutch play with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney defensively during ‘Crunch Time’, perhaps Leonard and Hooker are just the latest in line.