Colts’ troubled secondary bracing for Aaron Rodgers
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – They know what’s coming.
It’s Aaron Rodgers and a Green Bay Packer offense operating minus leading rusher Eddie Lacy.
“More opportunities for us,’’ Indianapolis Colts cornerback Darius Butler said.
Over the first three games of the season, Rodgers averaged 31 passes. Over the last four, it’s bounced to 45.3, including a total of 94 the past two weeks.
“That’s what we expect,’’ corner Patrick Robinson said. “They have a great passing attack.’’
Statistically speaking, the Packers remain a balanced bunch. In fact, they’re ranked higher in rushing (19th) than passing (22nd).
But again, when the Colts venture into Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon, it would border on dereliction of duty for the Packers’ offensive brain trust to over-think the game plan.
Rodgers has regained his swagger. Don’t be fooled by his career-low 6.33 yards per attempt and his receivers averaging 9.9 yards per catch, third-lowest in the NFL. He’s been a slow, steady death for DBs: 17 touchdowns, 4 interceptions.
The Colts? At best, their pass defense has been injury-prone and suspect. Inconsistent coverage has been further compromised by a tepid pass rush: a league-low 2 interceptions coupled with 14 sacks, which rank in the bottom third of the league.
Opposing QBs have compiled a 103.1 passer rating against the Colts. That’s the third-highest in the league, and would rank 5th among qualifying QBs.
And here’s where we point out the Colts likely won’t be at their best Sunday. Two-time Pro Bowl corner Vontae Davis is in the NFL’s concussion protocol after sustaining head trauma in Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s no small matter that this is Davis’ third concussion in as many seasons.
If Davis isn’t cleared for the Packers, the healthy corners are:
- Patrick Robinson, who’s started four games and been inactive for three while dealing with a concussion and hip and knee injuries.
- Butler, the group’s top slot corner who missed two early games with ankle and hamstring issues and has played the last three games with a club/pad on his right hand to protect a fractured middle finger.
- Rashaan Melvin, who’s started two games this season and four in three seasons with the Colts, New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. He was signed to the active roster Sept. 7.
- Frankie Williams, a rookie out of Purdue who was moved from the practice squad to the active roster for a second time earlier this week. His only NFLL experience, at Houston, consisted of six plays on special teams.
- Matthias Farley, a natural safety who’s been pressed into action at corner due to injuries.
Being the veteran he is, rest assured Rodgers will know who’s where. If a defensive back shows a weakness in covering Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams or Ty Montgomery, he’ll continue to attack him.
“Yeah, that’s what the good ones do in this league,’’ Butler said. “Even last week we had some issues when Pat went down and Matthias was thrown in there.’’
The Chiefs immediately went after Farley, a rookie. He had one-on-one coverage against Jeremy Maclin late in the second quarter and was beaten for a 13-yard touchdown.
“That’s how it is,’’ Butler said. “They’re going to test them out and see how they do.
“Guys just gotta hold up.’’
Williams realizes he’ll undoubtedly be in Rodgers’ crosshairs early and often.
“I’m fully anticipate him attacking me,’’ he said. “I’ll prepare for that. Most likely they’ll throw. It’s all about perspective. We look at it as an opportunity.’’
He has a simple wish list for his first trip to Lambeau.
“Hopefully have a good night, get a win and be able to do a Lambeau Leap,’’ Williams said.