Colts vs. Giants: If You're Going to be Flawed Defensively, Have it Be the Rush Defense

On the NFL Network’s GameDay Morning, Marshall Faulk selected the Colts as the team in trouble after week 1, based on how they lost–getting run over by the Texans and Arian Foster.  The exact opposite is actually true.  If you are going to have a problem in one aspect of the game, run defense is probably the best problem to have. 

If you have a bad rush defense, you can compensate if you have a good pass defense and a good offense, by aggressive play calling early to get a lead, which forces running to become cost prohibitive for the opponent.  If you have a bad pass defense, on the other hand, you will blow lots of leads late.  This is the model that the Colts have followed for the last decade, focusing on speed players to generate a pass rush and better pass coverage at the expense of rush defense.

Over the last eight seasons, only four teams have made the playoffs while finishing in the bottom eight in pass offense (by net yards per attempt), and only five teams have made it while finishing in the bottom eight in pass defense. In contrast, 22 teams have finished in the bottom 8 in rush defense (yards per carry allowed) and still made the playoffs, including several who have advanced far, like the Saints last year and the Colts in 2006.  That’s 34% of all bad rush defenses reaching the playoffs, which is roughly in line with the league average playoff rate as a whole.

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