The ‘21 season for the Indianapolis Colts was a rollercoaster ride, to put it mildly. If you’re a fan of The Shoe who happened to follow last year’s schedule, you likely felt emotions that can best described as sadness, hopelessness, waiting for the ‘22 season, “Wait, 9-6? How?”, and a bucket of disappointment dumped on you at the very end.
After a heartbreaking end to the ‘21 season, where Indianapolis rallied from 1-4 to 9-6 prior to missing the postseason, the Colts turned to the off-season to make adjustments.
In the ‘22 NFL draft, Indianapolis put on a show, earning an “A” grade from both Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated. During free agency, Indi’ brought in Stephon Gilmore, who stood as the 15th-best free agent on the market, per CBS Sports. Matt Ryan, the former quarterback in Atlanta, also joined the Colts via trade.
With all these key new additions, it’s hard to give just one player on the Colts’ roster the title of X-Factor, but we’re going to do it anyway. So, is it one of the players drafted who helped Indianapolis earn those “A” grades? The former Defensive Player of the Year in Stephon Gilmore? Perhaps even the team’s new quarterback, Matt Ryan.
None of the abovementioned players are earning the title here for X-Factor of the Colts’ ‘22 season. Instead, it’s another player acquired in a trade this off-season – defensive end Yannick Ngakoue
Yannick Ngakoue – the Indianapolis Colts’ X-factor for the 2022 NFL season.
First, let’s get to know Ngakoue a little. There’s a lot to like here; Over the course of Yannick’s six-year career, the former Raider has appeared in all but two contests. This availability has helped Ngakoue notch at least 8 sacks in each year at the pro level, totaling 55.5 altogether.
Ngakoue’s most recent season was another successful campaign. With 10 sacks, the 27-year-old found himself leading the Raiders in this category. By week-7, Maxx Crosby’s counterpart led the NFL in pressures, via Pro Football Focus, and ended the season being an alternate of the Pro Bowl.
How will Yannick help the Colts, though?
For one, his elite ability to get to the quarterback is going to do wonders for the secondary. Stephon Gilmore is a former Defensive Player of the Year, and Isaiah Rodgers is coming off of a season where he allowed a 78.1 opposing quarterback rating. Furthermore, it isn’t a stretch to claim Colts’ Kenny Moore is the top slot cornerback in the game today.
Alone, this is an impressive group of corners. With players like Buckner, Paye, and now Ngakoue attacking opposing quarterbacks? The entire cornerback unit is that much better.
Aside from helping the secondary, Ngakoue can also create for himself. To reference an earlier statement, throughout Yannick’s six-year career, a season hasn’t gone by where the defensive end has posted a sack total south of 8. It isn’t the only area of his game he excels at, either – In total, Ngakoue has forced 20 fumbles, leading the league in forced fumbles during the ’17 season.
What the Colts get from Ngakoue is an elite pass rusher, whose presence should elevate the entire secondary.
Ngakoue does more than help on the field.
When the Colts traded for their new 27-year-old edge rusher, they weren’t just getting a great player, but a great leader.
Since coming to Indianapolis, Ngakoue has done much more than help the team – he’s helped the community. If Yannick isn’t on the field giving it his all, you can find him creating lifelong memories for fans or helping donate to the community. Here’s just a few of his actions since joining The Shoe.
Helping teachers in the community? Check.
👋🏾👋🏾 Indy Fam – I want to send a
coffee truck to a deserving school for
their teachers. Shout out your favorite
teacher and/or school and why they
deserve the truck making a stop 💙
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) August 30, 2022
Hey @Colts Nation – where are my LOCAL teachers at ? With school right around the corner and knowing the challenges of what you face getting the proper items in your classroom – I want to help . Please drop your Amazon Wishlists 👇🏾 so I can take a look – surprises are my thing 💯
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) August 5, 2022
Being there for his fans? Check.
— The Giovanni Show Podcast (@GioThePodcaster) August 28, 2022
Got the opportunity to meet and welcome newest Colt to Indianapolis @YannickNgakoue and made a Maryland/Colts plaque for him. Also wanted to say Yannick how thankful I am for what you are doing for the Indy community and Indy teachers, much love #WalterPaytonManofTheYear pic.twitter.com/l9yIl60LWD
— Tyler Howard (@TylerTylermh) August 24, 2022
— Colts Cave Man (@RickStevens63) August 21, 2022
Making an impact with the community itself? Check.
We spent this week writing @YannickNgakoue thank you letters for donating items to our class!! My students are excited for me to mail their letters! @GCEgators @PrincipalGCE #wearewayne #gocolts 💙💙 pic.twitter.com/7RJG0kyb1G
— Jennifer Bishop (@mrsbishopgce) August 12, 2022
What a great Sunday morning with @YannickNgakoue at @meijer in Whitestown! Thanks to him, 10 lucky kids shopped for their own clothes, shoes, supplies, electronics, toys – whatever they wanted. It was amazing. We're happy to have you in Indy as part of the @coltscommunity! pic.twitter.com/CDZMUkTkbB
— Coburn Place (@CoburnPlace) August 1, 2022
Being honored through awards for all he’s done off the field in such a short time? Check.
The ISCA Awards Committee will be honoring Mr. @YannickNgakoue at our Fall Conference luncheon on November 11th as we present him with the 2023 Friend of Youth Award! Thanks for all you do for the students, schools, and community of Indianapolis!
— ISCA Awards (@AwardsIsca) August 20, 2022
Ngakoue is a true winner. Not just on the field, and not just as a teammate, but as a leading figure in the community. Meet the X-factor for the 2022 Indianapolis Colts: Yannick Ngakoue.