The Indianapolis Colts' work on defense in free agency is clearly aimed at improving the team’s run defense, which ranked 29th in the NFL last season.
Wednesday they added early-down run-stopping nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. Defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois, outside linebacker Erik Walden and strong safety LaRon Landry are all likely to benefit the run defense more than the pass defense.
Rivers McCown of Football Outsiders looks today at run-stop rates -- the percentage of a player’s plays that resulted in a stop. Stops are plays that stop an offense short of what FO considers a success: 45 percent of yards needed on first down, 60 percent of yards on second down and 100 percent on third or fourth down.
The standing of Walden here offers further explanation why the Colts signed him from Green Bay. He ranked seventh among linebackers at 77 percent while Jacksonville’s Paul Posluszny was second worst (46 percent) and Houston’s Bradie James was seventh worst (53 percent).
Among defensive backs, no player from the AFC South made the top 10, but Tennessee’s Michael Griffin was seventh worst at 25 percent.
The Titans (24th), Colts (29th) and Jaguars (30th) were in the bottom quarter of the league in run defense.
The Colts weren’t the only team to try to address the problem in free agency.
Tennessee signed defensive tackle Sammie Hill to make things more difficult for runners trying to head up the middle. New strong safety George Wilson will also help. The Jaguars' most notable addition so far, defensive tackle Roy Miller from Tampa Bay, is a run-stopper as well.