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New faces, same results


It’s almost like the Indianapolis Colts carry a shopping list to every game and check off a name weekly.  First it was Week One with Jason David and the New Orleans Saints; wide receiver Reggie Wayne torched him.  Check.  Cornerback Nick Harper and the Tennesse Titans; WR Marvin Harrison shooled him.  Check.  Look ahead to October 7, when the Colts see Cato June and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After Sunday’s victory over the Titans, people may finally recognize the Colts’ key to success so far; as defensive end Dwight Freeney told Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, “Look here.  What we do here is about the scheme.  It’s about the system.  It’s about the coaching staff.  It’s about the veterans.  People need to start recognizing that.”  The Colts were without two of their starting linebackers – Freddie Keiaho and Rob Morris – yet in what can be only described as an ugly game, Colts head coach may have devised one of his best defensive game plans to date, bottling up what was until yesterday a Titans running attack that torched the Jacksonville Jaguars for 282 yards on the ground.

As you’d expect, the Colts’ game plan was simple – shut down or at least minimize the damage of the Titans’ running game.  Part of the plan was to involve safety Bob Sanders more.  And boy did Sanders produce; he had 2.5 sacks and 11 tackles against the Titans’ offensive line.  While Sanders is being increasingly recognized as one of the better defensive players in the league and teams are keying on Freeney, the Colts are adjusting by utilizing Sanders in more defensive schemes (in the case of the Titans, more blitzing).

Sanders’ improved health and his increased role in the Colts’ secondary is lessening the blow from having lost 2 starters from last year’s team.  New starters CB ‘s Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden bring some tangibles to the table: additional speed and they have adopted Sanders’ style of play.  A good example of their effectiveness was a play involving Titans QB Vince Young and Hayden late in the first half.  Hayden delivered a hit to Young just as he stepped out of bounds; Young flipped the ball at Hayden’s stomach, drawing a 15-yard penalty from the refs which turned out to be a drive killer.  A simple yet effective strategy. 

While the Colts share the AFC South lead with the Houston Texans (winners over the Carolina Panthers), they seem to be the driver behind the wheel.  What we seem to have here is a young and developing team with an offense that is spreading the ball around quite a bit and a defense that seems to adapt and mature with what can be described as “interchangeable parts”.  QB Peyton Manning best described today’s version of the Colts: “We have got a fairly new team.  Some of our players from last year’s team are playing for the Titans, and some are playing for other teams.  It’s kind of like a new team and trying to establish our identity.  I think we’ll do that throughout the season.”

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One Response to “New faces, same results”

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