No one could’ve imagined the year that this player would have: becoming a captain, breaking the Colts’ single-season tackle record, and being on the cusp of a Pro Bowl nomination. From a depth player to an all-around stud, let’s reflect on the 2022 year for Zaire Franklin.
Colts’ Zaire Franklin Stepping Up
Star linebacker Shaquille Leonard has battled multiple injuries dating back to last season. Playing in only three games, Indy needed to fill some big shoes. In steps Syracuse alumni Zaire Franklin. The five-year vet has made a giant leap in production this year. Breaking the single-season tackle record for Indy (formerly held by Leonard) with 167 combined tackles, Franklin has stepped into star territory.
The journey that Zaire has been challenging. Playing your part on a team and waiting your turn is one of the most humbling acts in sports. Knowing you are not the starter, contributing at a high level to keep your spot, and doing all of this with an All-Pro in your position can be somewhat frustrating.
“I’m just thankful that I was able to prove myself in the league this year and stamp myself as a true player in this league and playmaker. And this record is just the icing on top.” Geoff Herbert, Syracuse.com
Colts’ Linebacker Production Is Huge
From 2018 to 2021, Zaire Franklin only accumulated 75 tackles and one interception. This year, he smashed that by almost 100 tackles. Zaire is quick enough to go from sideline to sideline and tough enough to play the run head-on. (In this league, you must be versatile and confident in your abilities.) Franklin also has an above-average football I.Q. that is off the charts.
“A lot of times, learning as you learn the game. You learn that offensive linemen have certain landmarks that they like to reach on certain blocks and certain marks that they kind of set for themselves to put themselves in position.” Matt Lombardo, Heavy.com
Colts’ Future Stars Alongside Franklin
Zaire has been a shining star this season, but he wasn’t the only one to make an impact on the team and league. Players such as Grover Stewart, Isaiah Rodgers Sr., and Bobby Okereke have improved their game this season. This group of rising stars makes the future of Colt’s defense seem bright. All of them have come into their own this season. Teamwork makes the dream work. Zaire praises his teammates for showing him the way and never quitting despite the unfortunate season.
#Colts LB Zaire Franklin was voted a special teams captain by his teammates. Through five games this season, he’s also looked like the captain of the defense. “I want to be held accountable, I want to be pushed, I want to be the best.” https://t.co/J8esaAsN7w — James Boyd (@RomeovilleKid) October 13, 2022
Is Franklin A 2023 Colts Starter?
Should Zaire start next season? Yes. He should! There is no reason why this man should not be a starting linebacker in this league. Everything you want in a leader from heart, passion, and dedication is a part of Zaire Franklin’s character. He also knows how to thump on the field! Do I think there will be issues next season? Maybe. It all depends on Leonard’s health, the Colts’ free agency pick-ups or releases, and most importantly, his health. Sometimes all people need is a chance. James Harrison is a perfect example of another linebacker waiting his turn to cause havoc in the league and do the most with his opportunities.
Career special teamer Zaire Franklin stepped in as a starter for Indy this year. His stat line: 131 total tackles, 9.0 TFL, 4 QB hits, 4 PD, 1 FF, 1.0 sacks That’s basically a Pro Bowl season from a guy in his first year of starting https://t.co/ZPEKntsxPd — Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) December 10, 2022
It was nice to see Zaire get his recognition this season. He surprised the Colts and the league with his play. Now that we know what type of player he can be, it’s time for Zaire Franklin to step it up again. I will say this until it becomes true: he should be a Pro Bowler! Not only does Zaire deserve that acknowledgment, but he’s earned it. Zaire has shown how special he is and how dependable he can be. Put some respect on his name. Let’s hope he continues this type of play for years to come in a Colt uniform.