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INDIANAPOLIS – The WARNING sign is pretty clear for anyone wanting to play defense for the Indianapolis Colts, under coordinator Matt Eberflus.
If you are a defender coming to play for the Colts, bringing constant effort is an absolute must.
“With the effort that you have to play with in this scheme, it’s hard to find free agents that buy into it,” Chris Ballard says, unprovoked, while watching film of his 2019 draft picks. “And there’s an accountability to it in that room where if you’re loafing or you’re not running to the football, (Eberflus’) just not going to play you.
“If you don’t buy into the scheme and to the effort that it takes to play this scheme, then you’re just not going to be here at the end of the day.”
It’s a firm stance from the Colts in how they have re-built their defense.
Playing with ‘effort’ is not some new, innovative concept, by any means. When you first hear the stressing of that point, it sounds a bit elementary.
But the emphasis that the Colts have on it is very real, and it’s to the extent that you hardly see from anyone else around the NFL.
“It’s hard for a dog to walk in the building and play here,” Ballard warns. “I mean, you’re not changing. I don’t give a crap how talented they are, (if they don’t play with effort) they will not play. They can’t withstand the damn pressure that’s day-to-day of what it takes to play in this (scheme).
“It’s great when you have a bunch of great players on defense, but when you don’t do the one thing that you can (control)…effort can help you survive.”
The rather humiliating story of Eberflus and his staff calling out their players for a ‘loaf’ received much attention last year.
Ballard noted how drastic the loaf number was on tape from last year’s season opening loss to the Bengals, versus a Week Two win over the Washington Football Team.
The Colts allowed just 9 points in that win over the Washington Football Team, arguably their finest defensive performance of the 2018 season.
While the Colts might not be the most diverse defense with tons of exotic looks and coverages, they know full well what they do well.
“We,” veteran cornerback Pierre Desir says, “want to be the No. 1 team in the NFL on effort.”
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