- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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The 2012 Indianapolis Colts did a lot of good things, surprising virtually everyone with an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance.
Two things they did poorly: protected their quarterback (thought Andrew Luck held the ball too long too often) and pressured the other quarterback.
Per ESPN Stats & Info: The Colts’ pass rush sacked, hit or put the quarterback under duress on 17.8 percent of drop-backs, the second-worst rate in the league. When the Colts sent four or fewer pass-rushers, they averaged a sack every 23.7 drop-backs, nearly five drop-backs worse than the NFL average (18.9).
Meanwhile, Luck was sacked, hit while throwing or under duress on 27.5 percent of his drop-backs, the third-highest rate among qualified quarterbacks. Luck was hit or under duress on 161 action plays, 33 more times than the next-closest quarterback (Josh Freeman: 128).
While I think the Colts will add an offensive lineman in the draft, the free-agent acquisitions of right tackle Gosder Cherilus and guard Donald Thomas, addressed the issue on the offensive side of the ball.
The defensive acquisitions hardly addressed the pass rush to the same degree. Defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois may increase the push up front. Safety LaRon Landry and cornerback Greg Toler can upgrade the coverage.
But Robert Mathis is now the lone standout rusher on the roster, and the new strongside linebacker, Erik Walden, is far better against the run than as a threat to quarterbacks. Jerry Hughes shouldn't be counted on as anything more than the third option as a rush linebacker.
The Colts need more of a pass rush.