INDIANAPOLIS –DeForest Buckner likely was more active than you remember on Sunday.
The hulking defensive tackle acquired from the San Francisco 49ers in March for a first-round pick and immediately given a four-year, $84 million contract extension was third on the team with six tackles, including one for a loss.
But he didn’t demonstrably affect Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew. He didn’t factor into any of the Colts’ four sacks or register a quarterback hit.
And his performance overall didn’t meet his own exacting standards.
“I go into every season, go into every game, with a high standard of myself,” Buckner said Tuesday. “I know the work that I put in and what I practice, and the way I played didn’t meet my own standard. I hold myself to that high standard, and it wasn’t good enough for my team. And, personally, I just need to step it up.”
That’s true of the defense as a whole.
Indianapolis surrendered just 241 total yards and ranks second in the NFL’s antiquated defensive standings after Week 1. But those numbers hid some poor situational football.
Jacksonville picked up 17 first downs on just 47 offensive snaps and converted 50% (5-for-10) of its third-down opportunities. Most glaringly of all, Minshew threw three touchdown passes against just one incompletion in 20 attempts and finished with a 142.3 quarterback rating.
It’s the second time in the last four games – dating back to last December – the Colts have allowed a completion percentage of 95% or better. New Orleans Saints legend Drew Brees was 29-of-30 against Indianapolis last season.
Buckner wasn’t there for that 34-7 loss to the Saints, but he has some thoughts about how to correct Sunday’s miscues.
“It’s really just the details,” he said. “Me, personally, also I gotta take advantage of the opportunities when I get those one-on-one rushes. Personally, I didn’t take advantage of them like I should have.
“Also, (Minshew) was able to scramble a little bit and also (had) some big throwing windows. So we just have to be disciplined in our rush lanes.”
Buckner expected to be the focus of double teams, but he said he has to be better prepared for the odd snaps when he’s lined up one-on-one with a guard.
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus also hinted Indianapolis could scheme some more favorable matchups for Buckner.
“You can do some things to help him take that (extra blocker) away,” he said. “So if he’s getting help, for example, from the center, you can do some things with your alignments and your adjustments in terms of bringing the center the other way to help with protection.
“Then (Buckner) has a one-on-one with a guard. That’s what you’re always trying to get. You can create that sometimes by what you do. We’ll try to do that some more and, again, we had some good one-on-ones on Sunday, too.”
Buckner said the percentage of double teams he faced Sunday was on par with what he was accustomed to with San Francisco.
In addition to winning the one-on-one battles more consistently, Buckner also is focused on continuing to build chemistry with his defensive linemates.
The lack of preseason games likely hurt the guys in the trenches as much as anyone. As a result, the defensive line remains a work in progress.
But Buckner believes things can move quickly in the right direction.
“As a unit, we got four sacks in the game, and I can just see us jelling together even more as the weeks go on and making progressions,” he said. “It just takes – it takes time working together.”
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings before being released in March.
But he doesn’t sound like a man bent on revenge ahead of Sunday’s home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It was a brotherhood when I was there, and it’s still a brotherhood to this day,” Rhodes said. “So it’s going to be good going against those guys. When I was practicing against those guys when I was there, we were competing each and every play. So it’s going to be the same right there on the field. But I’m going to be able to tackle them this time.”
The Colts signed kicker Matt Gay to the practice squad Tuesday and released defensive end Gerri Green from the practice squad.
Gay was 27-for-35 on field goal attempts and 43-of-48 on extra points last season in 16 games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He won the Lou Groza Award in 2017 at Utah, giving Indianapolis two of the last three winners. Rookie Rodrigo Blankenship won last year’s award at Georgia.
Green was a sixth-round pick for the Colts in 2019 and spent time with both Indianapolis and the New England Patriots as a rookie.