INDIANAPOLIS – The first five-plus months of Gus Bradley being on the job as the Indianapolis Colts The addition of key components to the defensive coordinator has meant that they have lost one of their starting safetyties. This leaves them vulnerable to the possibility of not having their best playmaker in training camp.
The Colts have added a starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore Protective and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue They can do so via free agency or a trade. But they also lost starting safety Khari Willis To a surprising retirement All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard Had back surgery this month to be questioned about his status in training camp, which begins at the end July. Additionally, cornerback Kenny Moore II isn’t happy about his contract situation.
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Bradley is ready to face any obstacles.
“He shows through triumph and also through tribulations,” said Ngakoue, who also played for Bradley with the Jacksonville Jaguars. “When things go good, when things go bad, he’s the same guy. So, that’s what he showed me. With people like that, not in just this football realm but just in life, man, those are people that you want to stick near and dear to.”
The Colts' biggest defensive news was Leonard's absence. They can’t afford to be without their All-Pro linebacker for an extended period of time. He’s the pulse of the team’s defense.
His offseason was spent healing his left ankle. It was repaired last offseason, but continued to be a problem throughout the 2021 season. Leonard had back surgery this month. The Colts said they weren’t aware of how severe Leonard’s back pain was initially because he hadn’t done any on-the-field activities with the team due to the ankle issue.
Even though it may mean that he misses most of training camp, the Colts are going to be methodical in their approach to Leonard's return. Leonard has already recorded 537 tackles and 16 forced fumbles in his four first seasons. He also had seven fumble recoveryies, 11 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries and 15 sacks.
Leonard will once he feels well, lead the Colts second-level defense. This was revamped after the departure of DC Matt Eberflus who is now the head Coach of the team. Chicago Bears. Eberflus also took several Colts staff members with him to Chicago.
That meant Bradley, who was the coordinator in Seattle when the Seahawks had the ‘Legion of Boom’ unit led by Richard Sherman And Earl Thomas IIIBradley, among other things had to add members to his Colts team. One of Bradley’s key additions to the coaching staff is former NFL head coach John Fox as the team’s senior defensive assistant.
“I never met Gus before [hiring him]I was a close friend of his, and knew so much about him. [Philadelphia Eagles head coach and former Colts OC] Nick Sirianni [former Colts QB] Philip Rivers who were with Gus at length,” Colts coach Frank Reich said back in the spring. “This is a guy who totally fits our culture. I think he’s going to bring a dynamic to our defense that’s going to help us elevate. I think we’ve played some really good defensive football over the last four years, and I’m expecting that we’ll continue to get better.”
Bradley will be with Leonard once he is fully healed. Las Vegas Raiders Last season, Ngakoue worked with a unit which had playmakers at the linebacker, cornerback, and linebacker positions. Ngakoue, with 55.5 career sacks will lead the line. Kwity Paye And DeForest Buckner. Gilmore was named NFL's Defensive Player-of-the Year in 2019. The two key pieces of the defense's defense will be a big help. Last season, Gilmore was 16th in yards and 32nd in takeaways.
Bradley's defenses — Chargers (2017-20), Raiders (2021), finished in the top 10 with the fewest yards allowed in each of those five seasons. The Colts' defense needs to be strong to handle the many quarterbacks they have on their schedule. Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson And Mac Jones.
“Same tree, a little different flavor [than Eberflus], but still the emphasis on effort, speed, fundamentals, taking the ball away — all those things that we’ve talked about in the past, we’ll do with Gus,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said.
The traits that Ballard seeks in the draft — speed and strength — perfectly match the way Bradley runs his defense. Bradley's defense would not be described as complex, but rather as simple. Bradley will mix it up from time to time to give free runners access to the quarterback, while still sticking to a 4-3.
“I just feel like I guess you won’t see the D-line really playing or reacting to the blocks, moving with the blocks and things like that,” Buckner said. It will feel more like we're on our tracks and getting vertical. Penetrating a lot more, you’ll see. If the guys are really embracing the scheme, you’ll see us in the backfield a lot more for sure.”