The Indianapolis Colts are making headlines for the wrong reasons at the moment. Per reports, the team just signed regressing 32-year old veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie in an effort to shore up a decaying defensive backfield.
The team was already bracing for the worst in regards to the health of Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson, their two listed starters for 2016 at the position. The news on Davis wasn’t good, either, with reports recently suggesting ligament damage in his ankle could rob him of the entire month of September.
Why Indy signed Antonio Cromartie: CB Vontae Davis has ligament damage in ankle, expected to miss at least first month of season, per source
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 23, 2016
Considering Davis is one of the top corners in the game, it’s not an injury the Colts can just brush off. Their entire defensive game plan depends on him locking down one side of the field and his absence could put the Colts in some rough spots to start the year.
Lift From Cromartie
The signing of Cromartie does give the Colts some terrific experience and a healthy body that is aiming to prove he isn’t done yet. Cromartie looked to be finished after a down 2015 season, but was playing some of his best football as recently as the 2014 season. It’s still possible Cromartie could regain his form, should a nagging hip issue no longer be something that could slow him down.
In addition to a one-month stop-gap, Cromartie could slide back and provide top shelf depth for Indianapolis upon Davis’ return.
We can’t know for sure how long Davis is out or how effective Cromartie will be in his place. For now, we can probably assume he won’t play at all in September and may even miss time in October. The loss of Davis is huge, as Indy’s pass defense will see a big drop-off in consistency. That will put added pressure up front on a shaky pass rush, and in turn could ask too much out of Andrew Luck and the offense.
Naturally, with September consisting of showdowns with the Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers, Indy could have cause for concern. That being said, the Lions and Chargers were not playoff teams in 2015 and the Broncos – although defending Super Bowl champions – have a serious red flag at the quarterback position.
It’s tough to assume the Colts were going undefeated in September even with Vontae Davis, but the silver lining is two-fold: there are just three games in the first month of the 2016 NFL regular season and at least on paper, they come against beatable opponents. The Colts will still have their work cut out for them defensively, however, so they should feel good if they can enter October at 2-1.
While there is still optimism for Indy to enjoy a solid start to the year even with Vontae Davis injured, that doesn’t make them a safe bet for those first three weeks. In fact, if the odds support the logic, NFL bettors may want to consider betting against them in September.