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Monday, April 25, 2011
Numbers review: Colts' defensive issues

By Paul Kuharsky

It’s the Colts' turn in our pre-draft look at some key numbers that could and should influence what they do in the draft.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Colts’ opponents didn’t bother to disguise their intentions to the Indianapolis defense. When opposing offenses put multiple running backs into the backfield, the Colts ranked in the bottom five in the NFL in several major statistical categories.

They allowed 4.6 yards a carry (28th), they gave up six touchdowns (tied for 27th), and they allowed 3.7 yards on first down (30th).

As for pass defense, the Colts were solid defending passes 15 yards or more downfield when they were thrown outside the numbers, with opponents averaging 7.6 yards per pass attempt (fourth in NFL). But Indianapolis struggled defending similar passes over the middle.

Opposing quarterbacks completed 67.3 percent of their passes in that area (32nd in the NFL), they averaged 15.5 yards per attempts (29th) and the Colts gave up 34 first downs (32nd). Quarterbacks posted a 110.3 rating (32nd) when throwing deep over the middle.

What do these two areas of trouble mean?

Well, the first could be helped by a bigger, penetrating defensive tackle, which is one of the reasons I think Illinois’ Corey Liuget is an intriguing idea in the first round.

The second has a lot to do with safety play. And while Antoine Bethea did well as the glue of a banged up secondary, the Colts were without Bob Sanders and then Melvin Bullitt due to injuries. A healthy Bullitt might be a free agent, and Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian has said the team will approach the draft as if Bullitt and other potential Indianapolis free agents will be gone.

It’s a weak draft for safeties, but perhaps Polian sees someone who can fit the Colts' scheme and won’t be valued in the same way by the rest of the league.