Jerrell Freeman adds pass rushing dimension to his tackling machine nature
Back in late May, Colts linebackers coach Jeff Fitzgerald talked about the versatility his group had and how implementing that would be the next step heading into 2013.
Moving players around and allowing the Colts pass rush to thrive on third downs was something Fitzgerald was looking for out of his linebackers.
Freeman 3.0 sacks are tied for ninth in the NFL and he’s the only inside linebacker in the league with more than 1.5 sacks.
“It’s just making the most of an opportunity,” Freeman says. “Guys up front, my other linebackers blitzing in and doing their thing. They’re doing all that work, the least I can do is make a play when I get the opportunity.”
Two of those sacks have come on third downs and in both of those cases Freeman has forced a fumble with the Colts recovering the loose ball.
The 15 takeaways the Colts had last season were one of the fewest in the NFL and Freeman is doing everything he can to change that number.
“We just try to get turnovers, try to make a difference out there. That’s what we preach,” Freeman said on Wednesday.
“Last year, we wanted to do more with the turnover battle and I think we’re at plus-four now. It’s a big thing. Get old Andy (Andrew Luck) the ball over there and I think we’ll be pretty good.”
Perhaps the most impressive indication of Freeman’s play in 2013 is he still has 26 tackles, which ranks near the top of the NFL.
Freeman’s 26 tackles is the most tackles for the top 64 players on the sack list after three games.
Last year, Freeman was a much needed catalyst in the middle of the Colts defense.
He is once again doing that in 2013 and has even added another dimension to his game that not many inside linebackers possess.
“He’s a good athlete. He studies the game, he works hard, he can run,” head coach Chuck Pagano says about Freeman.
“The guy’s got instincts. He knows probably what’s coming before it comes. He’s effective both in coverage, he’s effective in the run game, and when we do blitz he finds a way to get to the quarterback, so he’s got a knack for that.”