However, I knew even before looking at the stats that the 2001 Colts defense was the worst in franchise history because I lived through it and saw it with my own eyes (oh the horror!).
Watching former safety Chad Cota play the position for the Colts in 2001–which would also be his final season with the team, was something that nightmares are made of.
And he wasn’t alone…
That defense was slow, unathletic, and gave up way too many points.
Couldn’t cover. Couldn’t tackle. Couldn’t stop the run.
That putrid defense ultimately cost both head coach Jim Mora and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio their jobs. It’s worth noting that longtime offensive coordinator Tom Moore retained his position under new defensive minded head coach Tony Dungy–who was tasked with overhauling this terrible unit an offseason later.
It’s worth noting that there was a pair of future building blocks, linebacker Mike Peterson (9 starts) and cornerback Nick Harper (2 starts), who would go one to later play key roles for future Colts defenses. However, both players were far from polished at that juncture.
Aside from rushing the passer–having had Bratzke (8.5 sacks) and Washington (8.0 sacks) effectively get after the quarterback that season, the 2001 Colts defense was clearly worse in almost every other regard.
Their pass defense was better–likely because of their superior pass rush, but this year’s Colts defense is stronger against the run and allowed fewer points per game–bottom line.
Sep 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Adams(29) celebrates with tackle Zach Kerr (94) after picking up a late 4th quarter fumble to secure the game against the Sandiego Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports