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Secondary and Special Teams Offseason Burning Questions

Posted Feb 6, 2014

Intro: The Colts took one step forward in 2013 but ultimately did not reach the most important goal this season. What’s in store in the secondary and on special teams heading into the 2014 offseason?



INDIANAPOLIS –The Colts secondary wanted to force more turnovers in 2013 and that’s exactly what the unit did.

Now, as we head into the offseason a pair of key cogs in the backend of the Colts defense are heading for free agency.

Yesterday, we looked at the “Burning Questions” in the front seven of the Colts defense.

Today, we look at the secondary and special teams units to wrap up our offseason “Burning Questions” series.

Will the Colts secondary be back intact in 2014?

The most durable members of the Colts secondary last year have uncertain futures as we head into the offseason.

Let’s start with Vontae Davis.

In his second season with the Colts, Davis had his ups and downs but the good generally outweighed the bad and was enough to warrant some Pro Bowl consideration.

Top-flight corners are hard to come by in the NFL so Davis will attract more than a few suitors come free agency.

Having said that, it seems that both Davis and the Colts want this relationship to stay right here in Indianapolis.

Ryan Grigson has talked about how coveted lockdown corners are, especially in the Colts defensive scheme.

Davis is genuine in his appreciation for how the Colts have taken him in since being traded here in August of 2012. He is especially fond of Chuck Pagano (a former defensive backs coach) and how the Colts head coach has guided him on and off the field.

At safety, the last time Antoine Bethea missed a start was 2007.

He played 97 percent of the Colts defensive snaps this past season and was the lone healthy piece at the safety position.

Darius Butler continued to “resurrect” his career in Indianapolis.

The normal nickel cornerback led the Colts in four interceptions and ranks fifth in the NFL with eight picks since the start of the 2012 season.

When healthy (i.e. the Denver game), the Colts secondary was that “no fly zone” label the unit adopted last season.

If Bethea and Davis return, the secondary should continue to jump in league rankings after moving up eight spots (from 21 to 13) in passing yards allowed per game in 2013.

STAT TO NOTE
: Antoine Bethea has reached the 100-tackle plateau in every season since 2008. He also leads the Colts with 14 interceptions since 2006.

What will the Colts specialists look like next season?


Just like in the secondary, the Colts face some uncertainty with their special teams units.

Adam Vinatieri and Pat McAfee form one of the best kicker-punter duos in the NFL.

As an 18-year veteran, Vinatieri turned in arguably his best NFL season in 2013.

He set a career-high with 35 made field goals and he was 19-of-23 on field goals of at least 40 yards last year.

The 41-year old Vinatieri has made it clear he wants to play next season and, with his family in Indianapolis, it seems like a good fit that the future Hall of Fame kicker remains with the Colts.

McAfee had another successful year punting and kicking off for the team that drafted him back in 2009.

He was instrumental in flipping field position and on several occasions McAfee’s coffin punts led to game-changing plays.

Now, the question becomes how the market views McAfee and his desire to potentially kick field goals, along with punting and kicking off.

From a return standpoint, the Colts don’t appear to have anyone locked in to either position but there are plenty of options.

A trio of second-year receivers in T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen had success on punt returns. The roles of those three at receiver must be taken into consideration before the punt return spot is filled.

At kick returner, the electric Chris Rainey showed some flash but he only had six returns in 2013 (the most of any returning Colt).

STAT TO NOTE:
Pat McAfee set a franchise single-season record last season with 27 punts pinned inside the 20-yard line.


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