The Indianapolis Colts are making big improvements already this offseason in preparation for the 2012 NFL season. They hired Chuck Pagano as head coach from the Baltimore Ravens and are hoping to bring his Raven-style defense to Indianapolis. They’ve made several strong moves so far in free agency and may be more prepared than many think to make the switch to a 3-4 hybrid defense. With several months left to fill needs in free agency and with the NFL draft approaching, I think Indianapolis could be much better than fans think at this point.
The additions to two former Baltimore players, Cory Redding and Tom Zbikowski should provide a big boost. Both will likely step in as starters and play major roles in helping others learn and feel comfortable in the new defensive scheme. Redding is one of the better 3-4 defense ends in the game and Zbikowski fills a major need at safety alongside Antoine Bethea.
The biggest remaining need is at nose tackle. Nose tackle is one of the most important positions in a 3-4 and is one where Indianapolis is currently lacking. The closest fit to this position on the current roster is Antonio Johnson. At just 310 pounds, he isn’t the ideal fit at nose tackle. There are several options in both free agency and the NFL draft. with the addition of someone at nose tackle, Indianapolis will have a strong defensive line in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 front. Fili Moala could fit in very good as a 3-4 defense end opposite Redding and Drake Nevis should be a disruptive force wherever he plays in the new defense.
I think this scheme is perfect for the personnel because it will instantly give Indianapolis one of, if not the best, linebacking groups in the NFL. Robert Mathis recently stated that the SAM linebacker spot and Dwight Freeney would play the rush linebacker position. The Colts’ two inside linebackers, Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner, should continue to improve and will likely be very good in a system where plays are funneled toward the linebackers.
I think fans who think Indianapolis could be in for a down year may be pleasantly surprised. This defense already has the makings of being very good in 2012. Only time will tell, but I think fans may be pleased with the success the team has on the field next season.
Kyle Rapoza is a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and has been a lifelong fan of the Indianapolis Colts. He attended Super Bowl XLIV in Miami and follows the team closely. He runs a blog about the team at . Follow him on Twitter @kyler11.