There is no player facing more pressure to perform this year than Bjoern Werner. The second-year player out of Florida State was brought in to help the pass rush. Last year the pass rush was a one-man show led by Robert Mathis, and if he wasn’t getting pressure on the quarterback the Indianapolis Colts were in trouble. With Mathis now suspended for the first four games, Werner is going to have more pressure to put up sacks.
In Werner’s rookie year he struggled to get any pressure on the quarterback. Injuries and transitioning from a 4-3 defensive front to a 3-4 also were a factor in his slow development. But if Werner is going to get any pressure on the quarterback this year he is going to have to change a couple things about his game.
First he has to start gaining leverage when rushing the tackle. Werner stands up too much at the point of attack which allows the tackle to lock onto him. Werner is great when it comes to setting the edge and being a factor in stopping the run game. He can develop down the road into a solid complementary pass rushing option for the Colts, but he may struggle in the primary pass rushing role.
If Werner is going to have success this year, the Colts are going to have to create situations where he gets put in a one on one position to win a battle with the tackle. This means the Colts are going to have use overload blitzes to one side, which would force the protection to the blitzing side. That should leave Werner a chance to beat the tackle one on one for the sack.
Colts fans shouldn’t expect Werner to replace Mathis this year, because they are simply not the same player. However, Werner is a quality football player who will have to elevate his game if the Colts are going to survive the first four games of the season.