Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis (sprained knee) likely won’t face his former team Sunday – “I’m going to be out for a while” – but a few things are clear two months after the trade: The Dolphins’ suspicion that Davis wasn’t on the verge of blossoming into an elite cornerback so far has proved true. So was their conviction that Nolan Carroll had genuinely improved.
With the Colts awaiting Sunday, here are a few developing points to consider on that big August trade:
### Even though Richard Marshall struggled before being sidelined with a back injury, the production of Marshall (four games) and Carroll (overall, and in his three games as a starter) is far superior to Davis’ play with the Colts and not much different than Davis’ performance last year.
This season, Davis has allowed a dismal 15 of 19 passes thrown against him to be completed for 191 yards (12.7 average), with two touchdowns allowed, no picks, and a 143.6 quarterback rating against (second-worst in the league - ahead of only Kyle Arrington), according to ProFootballFocus.com. Factoring in three penalties, an unfathomably awful 18 of 22 passes thrown against Davis have had bad results, among the league’s worst. Davis missed two games earlier with an ankle injury.
Conversely, in the games they have started, Marshall and Carroll have combined to allow 27 of 46 passes to be completed against them for 340 yards, a 12.5 average, with two TDs allowed (against Marshall) and one pick (by Marshall).
### Carroll has been better than Marshall, with a 71.8 quarterback rating in his coverage area, compared with 101.2 for Marshall. Carroll deserves to start when Marshall returns.
### Davis played decently in 2011, including three touchdowns allowed, four picks and 68.8 QB rating against. But he regressed in training camp, and Marshall and Carroll are allowing more than a yard less per catch this season than Davis did last year.
### And this, too, is significant: The players who have filled Miami’s third corner role (Carroll the first four games, Jimmy Wilson the last three) have combined in those games to allow just 21 of the 43 passes thrown against them to be completed, for a 12.9 average and no touchdowns --- not only better than Davis in 2011 or 2012, but a much better percentage that last year’s No. 3 corner, Will Allen, who’s on injured reserve for the Patriots.
So one of Miami’s biggest concerns after the Davis trade (third corner) hasn’t been a problem after all.
“They have both really stepped up,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said of Carroll (a fifth-round pick) and Wilson (a seventh-rounder). “We have developed some depth in the secondary as a result of this injury to Richard. We’ll be strong down the stretch because of it.”
And they are helping in other ways: Wilson’s sack and punt block Sunday, Carroll’s sack that forced a fumble. Plus, Sean Smith’s improvement has helped soften Davis’ loss.
### One negative: The Colts’ surprising success means Miami’s second and sixth-round picks might not come until the middle of those rounds, perhaps later. And the trade can’t be fully judged until we see what Miami gets with those picks.
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