The Colts' secondary has seen some key additions this offseason, namely LaRon Landry and Greg Toler as starters.
With the additions, many Colts fans have a lot of confidence, or at least excitement, in the new secondary in 2013. But it's important to remember that there are still a lot of questions left with the unit. Just like everything else in the NFL, questions remain.
So with that, here are the respective arguments for and against the defensive backsin 2013.
The Colts' defensive backs are going to be All-Pros in 2013
- Vontae Davis is a stud. He struggled last year in the beginning of the year, but really came on strong during the second half. Davis posted a +6.8 grade at PFF from Week 14 on, and should be even better in his second season in this defensive system. He's looked great in training camp with numerous interceptions and pass deflections, and has the potential to be a lockdown corner.
- Greg Toler: another stud. He was underrated in Arizona, was one of Pete Prisco's top free agents, and has impressed everybody with his activity in training camp. He flies all over the field and has the potential to have as many pass breakups in his first season in Indy as Jerraud Powers did in four years.
- The Colts haven't had a true strong safety since Bob Sanders, and LaRon Landry as as true of a strong safety as they come. He's an intimidating hitter, and will bring a physical element to the defensive backfield that has been missing since Sanders.
- Antoine Bethea may have had a down year in 2012, but he was playing out of position in a strong safety role and was stretched too thin with poor talent around him. Bethea was Pro-Bowl player with Sanders next to him, and he can return to that form with Landry. The two already have strong chemistry, reportedly, and are going to be one of the league's best pairings in 2013.
- Improvement should occur in a lot of young players in their second year in Pagano/Manusky's defense, especially guys like Davis, Vaughn and Butler. That improvement will cause the defensive backs to look much better than last year, especially if they stay healthy.
The Colts' secondary is going to be another bottom-10, maybe even bottom-five unit
- Vontae Davis was incredibly inconsistent last year. He may have played better at the end of the season, but he also played against horrible quarterbacks last year. Look at the QBs he had positive grades against: Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden, Jake Locker, Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel, and Joe Flacco. Not exactly the cream of the crop there. Plus, Davis allowed a concerningly-high passer rating of 93.5 throughout the season. That's not what you want from your No. 1 corner.
- Greg Toler may have potential, but he can't stay on the field. He's missed 26 games in four seasons, and already has been sidelined at training camp with a concussion. Toler basically is replacing Jerraud Powers in the cornerback rotation, but there's no evidence that he'll be any more durable than Powers was while he was in Indianapolis. If Toler goes down, the Colts' CB rotation looks the exact same as it did last season, and nobody is excited about that.
- LaRon Landry may be a strong run supporter, but he's never been good in coverage. Everybody is assuming he'll be an upgrade over Tom Zbikowski, but there's a lot less difference between the two players in coverage than anybody in Indianapolis wants to admit. It's completely possible that Landry will be worse in coverage than Zbikowski was.
- Antoine Bethea could just be getting older. Of course, no one wants to think about that, but the fact is that he was a much worse tackler last season than he ever has been. Bethea was fourth and sixth in the league in tackling efficiency in 2011 and 2010, but dropped down to 26th among safeties last year. If he's starting to break down, it spells doom for Indianapolis. With Landry at SS, Bethea may have more room to cover than he did last season.
- The Colts are relying on health and improvement from guys who have struggled with injuries (Davis, Toler, Landry) and have failed to improve much in their first few years in the league (Davis, Butler, Vaughn). It's not a safe bet in the least.
This potentially could be one of the most exciting units the Colts have had in the secondary in years, but it also could be very disappointing. As fans, we want to assume the best from these players, but let's also be realistic. The secondary has multiple, critical concerns right alongside all of its potential.
You can be optimistic, but be cautious about it.