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Colts Cornerback conundrum: Kenny Moore II anchors nickel as injuries impact secondary

With Dallis Flowers and JuJu Brents sidelined the Indianapolis Colts face a daunting task managing their cornerback position. Kenny Moore’s pivotal role at nickel remains vital as the team restructures its defense against the New Orleans Saints and beyond.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts Bob Scheer-USA TODAY Sports

As the Indianapolis Colts gear up for their showdown against the New Orleans Saints, they face a pressing challenge in their secondary. The cornerback position, already thin on proven candidates, has been hit hard by injuries. Dallis Flowers’ season-ending torn Achilles and JuJu Brents’ quadriceps injury, sustained in the loss to Cleveland, leave the Colts in a precarious situation.

With both players having started four games at one of the NFL’s most unforgiving positions, the question looms: how will the Colts navigate this adversity? Fox59 reporter Mike Chappell wrote about this issue on Friday.

The straightforward solution of shifting Kenny Moore II, one of the NFL’s top nickel corners, to the outside seems to have been contemplated and promptly dismissed. Coordinator Gus Bradley conceded they “looked at that,” only to settle on Plan B. Moore’s extraordinary value at the nickel spot, as Bradley indicates, is too significant to tamper with.

In Sunday’s game, fans can expect to see Moore and rookie Jaylon Jones as the outside corners when the Colts are in base. As Bradley switches to “sub” packages, Moore will slide into his familiar nickel role. Darrell Baker Jr., Ameer Speed, or practice squad corner Darren Hall may step outside opposite Jones. Bradley admits the need for flexibility, hinting at a possible simplification of schemes for the newcomers.

The rationale behind keeping Moore at nickel is well-founded. His performance in the position has been nothing short of exceptional. In his 94 games and 81 starts, Moore has not only earned 2021 Pro Bowl recognition but also compiled an impressive stat line: 461 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 15 interceptions, and 52 passes defended. His aggressive play style, as Shane Steichen highlights, makes him a versatile weapon, effective in coverage, blitzing, and run support.

Against the Browns, Moore’s impact was palpable. He disrupted plays, demonstrated remarkable agility in evading blocks, and nearly added a diving interception. His ability to read and react to the offense’s scheme, as Bradley notes, makes him a crucial playmaker.

Moore’s consistency is another aspect that can’t be overlooked. Since becoming a defensive cornerstone in 2018, he’s been a mainstay on the field, participating in 100% of the defensive snaps in 42 of 76 starts and at least 90% in 23 others. This reliability stems from his adaptability and confidence in switching between nickel and corner.

As the Colts face the Saints and look beyond, fans should anticipate a secondary adapting to the challenges of injuries. While Moore’s expertise at nickel remains a cornerstone, the team will rely on the flexibility and potential of players like Jones, Baker, Speed, and Hall. Simplified schemes may be on the cards, but the focus will be on minimizing the impact of the injuries and maximizing the strengths of available players. The coming weeks will test the Colts’ resilience and strategic ingenuity in one of the most demanding positions in the NFL.