We observed the horrible years of the Indianapolis Colts defense. For example, the 2006 season which Indy took a role of doing absolutely horrible on rush defense. It was just about every game you see a 100-yard rusher.
Then there came one of the worst games in Colts history which resulted in a 44-17 painful defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars, in which the Colts defense allowed about yards on plainly just running the ball.
Against the Tennessee Titans, Colts fans always witnessed the times of Vince Young, Travis Henry, and LenDale White running right over them. Then there was the first time ever in which the Colts loss to the Houston Texans, allowing Ron Dayne being a superstar of that game.
Although the defense was horrible, the Colts still managed to win the Super Bowl, allowing to prove many naysayers wrong. Many players were a part of that defense and still are now, notable names including Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, Raheem Brock, Gary Brackett, Freddie Keiaho, Bob Sanders, Marlin Jackson, and many more.
There was also a player that took one of the biggest and key-est roles in during that year of the 2006 defense: Antoine Bethea. Yes, Antoine Bethea. A sixth round draft pick who eventually became a starter in his first season of play in the National Football League.
He didn’t let anyone down as he recorded 90 tackles and one interception in just 14 games of playing. It was truly remarkable to see some vey small-school player showing what he can do in the NFL.
It’s how Johnnie Lee Higgins turned out.
But enough of that. It was shown that the Colts had developed all their trust in number 41. Coming into the 2007 season, the Colts had a strong set of safeties in the back with Bob Sanders and Bethea leading the way. It was 41 and 21.
It was probably one of the best safety duos that year as both Sanders and Bethea earned Pro Bowl invites. Despite playing 13 games that year, Bethea did not only managed to play in Hawaii to represent his AFC conference, he also had some solid stats for a 13-game season as well.
In his 13-game span, he had notched 65 tackles and four interceptions for the white and blue. The Colts went on towards a 13-3 record, second best in the AFC (behind the Cheatriots). Although the Colts failed to win a playoff game, losing to the San Diego Chargers by a result of 28-24, it showed how strong the Colts defense was.
Then came the 2008 season. Bethea now had to live up to much bigger expectations. And by living up, it was his best season of his career that year. Playing all 16 regular season games, he had a career-high 101 tackles and notching a second career-high of two picks. But however, a Pro Bowl invite wasn’t in sight that year due to the fact of Ed Reed and other safeties putting on bigger shows than Bethea.
But yet, Bethea put on a show as well but people never witnessed the help he provided and how much it meaned for Indy’s defense. Bethea was truly underrated, exactly like Robert Mathis.
I mean, just look at his stats at the combine:
Weight 40 yd 20 ss 3-cone Vert
203 4.39 4.13 6.99 36.5
*Stats found from Wikipedia, chart made by myself
So here we are coming into the 2009-10 season. I expect Bethea to be an exciting player to watch. He’s going put on a show. Every year he has been improving more and more. Is this year a 110-tackle or more season?
Although these questions will be answered, there is one thing he will show the Colts defense for a lifetime: signs of hope.