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INDIANAPOLIS – Since Matt Eberflus became the Colts’ defensive coordinator, well before Frank Reich was even on Chris Ballard’s radar as head coach, the clear new emphasis was there.
Speed. Speed. And more speed.
Installing a simpler, 4-3 scheme, Eberflus was the guy that Ballard pegged to run a defense that the GM believed was needed to reach the game’s pinnacle.
That area of his defense was observed during the spring offseason program.
Now, it’s time to add another layer to it with the full pads coming.
“Speed is certainly an element to it, but first and foremost, the quickness and instincts have got to be there along with the striking ability relative to your position,” Eberflus says when looking ahead to Training Camp.
“Then obviously you want athletic speed players at that point.”
Poor tackling has plagued the Colts in recent years, especially early in seasons.
Eberflus points to tackling and another specific area when gauging if his defense is at a necessary standard.
“We’ve always said that we will be a good tackling team when our corners tackle and we will be a good hustling team when our d-line hustles,” Eberflus says.
“So we are always looking at those two things and those two groups. That’s the thing that has been said in this system for a long time and that’s the things that we are trying to evaluate.”
Outside of the heavy onus on being a quicker unit sideline-to-sideline when it comes to pursuing, Eberflus is seeking out some versatility. Guys like Denico Autry and Tyquan Lewis who can line up all over the defensive line. Or even linebackers who can play multiple spots among that 3-person grouping.
“We are looking at who complements who and who can play the positions,” Eberflus says. “You are always looking for – when you are formalizing your depth chart, say you are going to have 8 defensive linemen up for the game, 6 linebackers and 8 DBs. That’s typical with a 4-3 scheme and it adjusts here and there number by number based on injury and stuff. But what you are looking for is not only the starters but you’re looking to develop your depth. At each position – left end, right end, under tackle, nose tackle, SAM, MIKE, WILL, left corner, right corner, safety, safety, and nickel – all those spots we are looking for a pair and a spare that’s trained in those spots.
“So that’s our job as coaches to make sure that, can a guy can physically do it and can he mentally can do it? Can a guy play left corner and nickel? Can he play right corner and dime? Can a guy play strong safety and dime? Can he play MIKE or WILL? Can he play those positions? Can he do all those different things? Physically and mentally, can he get it done? Then you are always looking for – like I said – a pair and a spare at each position.”
Do the Colts have enough ‘pairs and spares’ to go from the bottom of the defensive rankings to a unit that isn’t weighing the team down?
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