PFF picks secondary as Indianapolis Colts ‘biggest weakness’

It wasn’t surprising that PFF picked the Colts’ defensive front as the team’s biggest strength, and it’s not surprising that they’ve chosen the secondary as the biggest weakness.

In relying heavily on a number of inexperienced players, the Colts battled inconsistency all season long in the secondary. Too many big plays were surrendered, ranking in the bottom third of the NFL in yards per attempt allowed, and not enough plays on the ball were made, ranking 22nd in pass breakups.

“Like I said, sometimes the inconsistency,” said Bradley on the root of the issues last season. There was three or four games where we look back and say it just wasn’t us, and what was the culprit of it, explosive passes and things like that, whether it was a bust coverage here and there. But I think in those times, we’ve just got to make sure the young guys play at their highest level.”

This offseason, the Colts would re-sign Kenny Moore and Julian Blackmon, which certainly provides some stability at cornerback and safety, however, the only outside additions that were made to the roster came in the fifth and sixth rounds of the NFL draft.

Instead, the Colts are banking heavily on the development of their young players. GM Chris Ballard sounded very bullish on this unit prior to the draft, sighting the experience gained last season, along with the return of Dallis Flowers from injury as two catalysts behind what he expects to be improved play this season.

Among those young players expected to make a big jump is JuJu Brents. Unfortunately, Brents’ rookie season was derailed to a degree due to injuries, which limited him to only nine games and left him playing catch up after he missed OTAs and a portion of training camp last offseason.

“That part is challenging,” said Bradley about Brents’ missed time last offseason. “There’s still a little bit where we’re looking at him, and you can see that he’s had some experienced play, and now when you’re going through this phase of it, you’re looking back at it, and you’re saying, ‘boy, let’s start over with him here, and let’s get him back to the fundamentals and the basics.’

“It’s not so much the technique at the line of scrimmage, it’s more what are the formations, the motions, the jets, the things like that, that I think for JuJu, that’s going to be the learning curve. He missed a lot of that, even in walkthroughs and training camp.”

Now fully healthy, along with having a year of experience in Bradley’s system, Brents has been in a much better position to attack the offseason and has leaned heavily on Moore and other veterans while also being very intentional in how he goes about things, with the focus on staying healthy and available for his team.

The only certainties at this point in the offseason is that Moore will be in the slot and Blackmon will be the strong safety. Otherwise, the other three starting spots between cornerback and safety are “wide open,” as Gus Bradley put it.

Competing for playing time at cornerback will be Flowers, JuJu Brents, Jaylon Jones, Jaylin Simpson, and Darrell Baker. At safety, it will be Rodney Thomas, Nick Cross, and Daniel Scott.

Having a robust defensive front that should be one of the most disruptive units in the NFL will have a positive trickle-down effect to the secondary. However, if the defense as a whole is going to do better than ranking 28th in points per game allowed this season, the secondary will have to be more consistent.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire